People often wonder if there are good samaritan laws that make it a legal obligation to step in and help someone who is in danger or who has been injured.
In general, the answer is no. There’s no legal requirement to be a “Good Samaritan.”
However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. One says that people may have an obligation to assist someone if they helped create the danger in the first place.
In one recent case, two college students, Sarah and Zachary, agreed to give a third student named Jason a ride home after a night of drinking and partying. On the way, Sarah and Zachary took Jason to a cliff overlooking the Sacramento River, where they sat drinking rum and watching the sunrise.
Jason, who was quite drunk, accidentally slipped and fell off the cliff.
Sarah and Zachary didn’t call 911 right away because they were afraid they’d get in trouble. Instead, they spent an hour trying to find Jason, and then apparently hatched a plan to tell people he had committed suicide.
Jason survived, however – although he was injured in the fall. He later sued Sarah for making his injuries worse by failing to promptly call for help.
A court ruled that Sarah could be sued. Although people don’t generally have an obligation to call 911 if someone has been hurt, the court said this case was different because Sarah had helped create the danger in the first place – by taking an obviously drunk person to the edge of a cliff.
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