Boulder City Magazine® July 2009 Issue
by Rodney S. Woodbury, Esq.
Woodbury, Morris & Brown
Duty To Rescue
In Nevada, there is no general duty to rescue someone in danger. In other words, a person is not subject to civil liability for failing to aid someone in peril. Although Nevada does not obligate passersby to render aid, there are laws that offer protection against liability for providing assistance. These “Good Samaritan Laws” are meant to encourage people to help in an emergency.
Boulder City Magazine®
|In Nevada, those who render care or assistance in an emergency cannot be found liable for any civil damages resulting from their aid as long as the aid was rendered gratuitously and in good faith and the rescuer is not grossly negligent.
Rendering aid “gratuitously and in good faith” means that the rescuer is not already under a duty to act. Although there is no general duty to rescue someone in danger, there are certain situations when an individual is required to help another.
This duty can arise where a special relationship exists between the person in need and the potential rescuer. For example, parents have a duty to rescue their children, spouses have a duty to rescue each other, employers have a duty to rescue their employees, and those who voluntarily undertake to rescue someone have a duty to see the rescue through to the end. Additionally, people who are responsible for creating perilous situations have a duty to assist those whom they put in danger.
Good Samaritan statutes protect a voluntary rescuer from liability for negligence, but if the rescuer is grossly negligent (which means acting with an utter lack of care), then the rescuer may be subject to civil liability for any injury or damage that he or she causes.
If you find yourself in a situation where you want to help someone in need, you can provide assistance knowing that Nevada has an interest in protecting voluntary rescuers from being sued for the consequences of their assistance.
To more fully understand your legal responsibilities to others in Nevada, consult an experienced attorney. Rod Woodbury can be reached at 933-0777 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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