Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

Can You Sue Someone for Not Calling 911?

When someone is injured or in need of medical assistance, calling 911 is typically the best response. But can a person who decides not to call 911 face any legal consequences?

In a lawsuit recent recently filed against Hollywood director Brett Ratner, a woman who was allegedly injured at a party at Ratner's house claims that the director and other party-goers refused to call 911, fearing bad publicity. The woman eventually made it to a hospital, where she received more than 80 stitches; she claims she can no longer work because of her injuries.

So can you successfully sue someone for not calling 911? Here are a few points to consider:

Is Not Calling 911 Negligence?

When a person fails to maintain a reasonable standard of conduct, he may be liable for the injuries he caused to other people under the legal theory of negligence.

Negligence generally states that a person who owes a duty of care to someone else can be held liable for the injuries caused by a violation of that duty.

Even if a person is already injured, a defendant can sometimes be held liable for negligence if the defendant's conduct makes the person's injuries worse, such as a doctor who performs negligent medical care on a patient.

No Duty to Rescue

However, unlike a doctor treating a patient, an average person generally owes no duty to help or rescue another person in distress, such as by calling 911. And when there is no duty owed, there can be no negligence.

However, in some situations the general rule that a person has no duty to rescue may not apply. These include:

  • When you created the peril. If you injure someone or place her in a position of danger, you may be liable for failing to help her out.
  • When you begin undertaking a rescue. Though you have no duty to rescue another person, if you start doing so anyway you may be obligated to continue if it would be unreasonable to stop.
  • If you have a special relationship to the person in need of rescue. In some circumstances, the relationship between the two parties can create a duty to rescue, such as employer-employee or school employee-student.

If you've been injured but you're unsure of who may be legally responsible for your injuries, an experienced personal injury attorney can help explain your legal options.

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