A car went out of control, bit an embankment, overturned, and burst into flames because, according to the driver, something broke on his vehicle.
Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report about a single-car crash on East State Highway 92. By the time they arrived on scene, the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames. Shortly after the initial wreck, and just as the flames began to spread, two bystanders pulled the driver from the overturned vehicle.
Emergency responders rushed the driver to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. The bystanders were apparently unhurt.
Most states, including Kentucky, do not have a statutory duty to rescue injury victims. The law does not require people to put themselves in harm’s way in these situations. Basically, the state cannot legislate morality. However, a common law duty to rescue could arise if:
- Fault: If a person creates a hazard, that person usually has a duty to rescue people in peril. Foreseeability could be an issue here. If Tom throws a banana peel on the floor and the person behind him slips and falls, Tom probably has a duty to help. But if someone slips on the peel a few minutes later, even if Tom is still nearby, no duty probably applies.
- Special Relationship: Personal relationships clearly apply here. Professional relationships could apply as well. The insurance company, and not the person, is financially responsible for this assistance. So, the individual usually faces no adverse consequences because of such legal action.
- Negligent Undertaking: Legally, people must finish what they start, at least in most cases. If Linda tries to pull a victim out of a car and then stops, she could be liable for damages. The point of no return is sometimes an issue. If Linda takes a couple of steps toward the car and then stops, did she initiate a rescue or not?
If there is no legal duty, there is no possible negligence claim. If the person did have a duty to render aid, usually because of one of the three aforementioned circumstances, Kentucky’s Good Samaritan law could apply.
This law usually protects medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses. It also applies to certified first aid administrators or people who know CPR. These individuals are not liable for damages absent willful or wanton misconduct. W&W is either intentional or involves a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
For victims, bystander liability is an additional source of recovery. The more responsible parties there are, the more compensation is available, at least in most cases. Vicarious liability is especially important in catastrophic injury claims. Most tortfeasors (negligent actors) only have the bare minimum amount of insurance.
Driver error causes over 90 percent of the vehicle collisions in Kentucky. Defective products are responsible for most of the rest. In the mad rush to make as much money as possible, automakes and other manufacturers often overlook critical defects which could cause serious injury. Many times, a fix is available, but the company believes the remedy is too expensive.
Generally, manufacturers are strictly liable for damages if their defective products injure someone. Metal on Metal hip implants, which were marketed as medical marvels, illustrate the two major types of product defects:
- Design Defect: Hips are basically ball-and-socket joints. So, when the all-metal parts grind together, the friction releases tiny pieces of metal into the bloodstream. These microscopic fragments accumulate and cause metal poisoning. Because internal organs are inflamed, the hip implant usually dislodges.
- Manufacturing Defect: Chiefly to save money, many device manufacturers use cheap parts from China and other overseas locales. These places do not have strong product safety laws. So, the company saves money, and unsuspecting customers pay the price.
Inherently dangerous products, like fireworks, are a bit different. These products cannot be safely made no matter what precautions the manufacturer takes. Therefore, strict liability usually applies even if the product itself is not defective.
Damages in a defective product injury claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. A Lexington personal injury attorney can usually obtain substantial punitive damages in these cases as well. Usually, as mentioned, manufacturers know their products are unsafe, yet they ignore those hazards.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Home, virtual, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers