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The Florida Rescue Doctrine

We’ve all driven by car accidents on the road, usually during a slow down or while authorities are still clearing a crash. How often, however, do you see people stopping to help who aren’t local law enforcement or emergency personnel? Do Florida residents have an obligation or responsibility to stop and help when they witness a major accident?

According to a recent news report, a young man was killed while assisting others involved in a significant car accident. After a crash between two vehicles in front of the young man, he pulled onto the shoulder of the road and ran across the interstate to see if he could help. While the young man was assisting the individuals involved in the crash, another pickup truck veered off the road and crashed into him and the other two cars involved in the initial accident. The pickup truck driver was not injured, but the young man who was assisting was killed on impact.

Although there is no legal obligation to rescue someone in the event of an accident in Florida, if someone is injured in the process of voluntarily rescuing someone, they may be able to recover compensation. In Florida, the rescue doctrine is available to rescuers injured while involved in a reasonable and necessary rescue effort. This law allows the rescuer to potentially recover damages from the party or parties who caused the rescue situation. Florida law holds the at-fault party responsible not only for the damage caused to the victim in the initial accident, but also to any individuals who get involved in the rescue effort.

Because the rescuer is encouraged to be proactive and act only because of the situation created by the at-fault party, it is foreseeable that someone could be injured in rescuing an individual who is the victim of an accident. As a result, Florida law views the at-fault party as responsible for both causing the initial accident and any injuries to the rescuer.

To bring a claim under Florida’s rescue doctrine, potential plaintiffs must prove that the at-fault party was negligent, the person or victim of the accident who was rescued was in imminent danger, and the person who performed the rescue was acting reasonably. All three elements must be met to bring a successful claim.

Typically, the outcome of rescue doctrine cases depends on whether the victim was in imminent danger and whether the rescuer acted reasonably. For example, in one case, a rescuer’s actions were found unreasonable because he dove into the shallow end of a swimming pool to save a child who was drowning. The court ruled that the plaintiff could not recover compensation for his injuries because it was unreasonable to dive into the shallow section of the pool.

Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been recently injured while rescuing another person following a Florida car accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. To explore your legal options, contact the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada today at 877-448-8585. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for anything unless we can help you recover for your injuries.

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