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Duty to Rescue

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#1 majestictuna

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 03:57 PM



In my ethics class we are debating the Duty to Rescue. I want to know your thoughts. 


Should this moral obligation to save people be a legal obligation as well?


In other words: should we, as human beings, be legally liable for doing nothing when another human is in peril?


Case Studies FOR being held liable:



Case Studies AGAINST being held liable:


Ultimately: I want your argument for your side. Evidentiary support is ALWAYS a winner. Opinions don't hold much power over evidence. 


Just so you know, currently, you, generally, cannot be held liable for doing nothing while someone is in peril. (Unless you are the parent, spouse, police officer, doctor, etc.)


Go get 'em.

Edited by majestictuna, 03 April 2015 - 04:00 PM.

#2 Adam

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 04:16 PM

In Yania v. Bigan I believe that the co-worker should be held liable. The now deceased man trusted the judgement of his co-worker (which he probably should not have), and that man should be guilty. There's a law in Wisconsin where if you wave someone on at a 4-way stop, and they suffer injuries from an oncoming vehicle, the fault does not lie on the person you waved on, but on you. Said law is my basis for believing that the co-worker, who egged on the now dead man, should be held accountable and charged with involuntary manslaughter


However if person A, and person B are having an altercation that is witnessed by other people, and person B shoots person A dead, the witnesses shouldn't be accountable unless of course they aided in the shooting.


From my own experience/opinion as a certified first responder, I am legally obligated to continue to administer SABC/CPR to someone once I start, but I don't have to help them initially if I don't want to.


So I guess I don't really have a concrete answer to your question; however, I would not want to be legally held responsible for someone dying when there's nothing I could have done about it.

#3 majestictuna

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 04:35 PM

Adam, from what I have learned in class, you would be taking a Liberal Ethic Lens (yes, lens, like looking glass, eye glass, etc.) on this matter. In other words, you want the freedom (the liberal lens is ALL about freedom of basically everything) to NOT be held liable for another individual's peril. I'm remaining Sweden in this debate, but I think you have a very credible argument. Especially, given your personal experience as a certified first responder. 

Honestly, this subject stirs a lot of frustration in me, because, personally, I want those victims avenged, but it takes away our rights to remain un-involved, safe from the danger and from doing the wrong thing. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. Also-a side note- while I was discussing this with my husband last night that he felt like the co-worker in the Yania v. Bigan case should have gotten involuntary manslaughter just as you did. Great minds.

#4 Adam

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 04:33 PM

I'd like to see more input on this topic.

#5 Padme

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:07 PM

I haven't read a lot of these cases but I think there are a lot of factors to take into consideration and I will read these articles when it isn't the middle of the night.


I believe you have a duty to all other humans when you live in society. When you live in society you agree to a social contract. I think our laws are too lenient to bystanders and the like.


I'm appalled that people would/will let other people suffer, die, be assaulted or otherwise when they could step in. 

It's along the same lines of EMS being sued or punished when they save someones life who 'wanted' to die but was unable to say no. 


We talked about this a LOT in my philosophy classes, if I can dig up my notes I'll try to share those also. I wrote 3/4 papers on this subject matter. I think it extends into a lot of corners not just humans. 


It's also very neat to look at this sort of matter on both a macro and micro level. So that could be fun to discuss.

#6 cara

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 10:19 AM

Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated The protection is intended to reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.


The only justification I can see for someone not helping another person is that they are scared of being liable and sued. However, the above act protects people from that happening to them. So, what other reason is there for not picking up your phone and dialing for help? I understand if you don't want to jump in the thick of the situation (I wouldn't either if it involved a weapon, to be honest), but if you can't even call for help you are an absolute little bitch,

#7 redlion

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Posted 06 April 2015 - 10:38 AM


I can't help but laugh. The idea that I'm going to be criminally negligent for not responding in a heroic fashion is ludicrous.

To whit, without a Good Samaritan law I wouldn't even administer CPR to someone who wasn't known to me already. The litigious nature of the US just makes it not worth the risk.

On the other hand, in environments of extreme peril (the Seas, Space) it is already common practice to be obligated to respond to SOS calls. That's actually in the laws of the seas. Now whether or not a captain actually 'hears' a distress call is a matter of shipboard politics, but the point is when the environment is so hostile that lack of help = death, humans are obliged to help one another.

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