Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, McCoy (Plaintiff), was injured when he was attempting to help at an accident sight and was hit by a car.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The rescue doctrine may apply in products liability cases.
Issue. Whether the rescue doctrine protects the Defendant from claims brought under a theory of products liability.
Held. Products liability, like any other tort, is subject to the rescue doctrine.
* The rescue doctrine allows an injured rescuer to sue the party that caused the danger. The tortfeasor owes a duty to the rescuer that is similar to the duty they owed to the party injured in the first place. The doctrine also negates the presumption that the rescuer assumes risk of injury when undertaking a dangerous rescue as long as the rescuer does not act recklessly.
* The rescue doctrine requires that:
i. The defendant acted negligently towards the person rescued and the negligence caused the danger to the rescuer,
ii. The danger was imminent,
iii. A reasonably prudent person would have concluded that the danger existed and
iv. The rescuer acted with reasonable care.
* In this case, the court found that the Plaintiff met the requirements to achieve rescuer status.
* The rescuer doctrine was developed for public policy reasons because rescuers should be anticipated and should not be barred from bringing suit. There is no reason that this policy should not apply to situations where a manufacturer causes the danger. Therefore, for the rescuer to show causation, they only need to show that the defendant proximately caused the danger and that they were injured as a result of their actions as rescuer.
* It is a possibility that Suzuki’s negligence caused the Defendant driver’s accident and therefore they should not be protected from liability to the Plaintiff.