Alternatively, Jimmy may have been contributorily negligent in riding with Joyce. Again, this is likely to turn on whether he knew that she would drive too fast, or had an opportunity to get off when he saw that this was the case.
Lastly, there may be an automobile guest statute broad enough to include snowmobiles (e.g., a statute including “all motorized recreational vehicles), which would allow Jimmy to recover only if Joyce was “grossly” or “wantonly” negligent.
Assuming that Joyce is liable for negligence, she would certainly be liable for Jimmy’s injuries from the collision. She may also be liable for his exposure injuries. She will argue that the exposure injuries are the direct result of Farmer’s refusal to help, which should be treated as a superseding intervening cause. However, it seems probable that the exposure would be held to be reasonably foreseeable, even if Farmer’s intransigence was not; the case would then fall under the rule that where the harm was foreseeable, and the manner of its occurrence not, there is liability.
Negligence by Farmer in his refusal to help Jimmy: Farmer’s refusal to aid Jimmy might be negligence. The general rule is that one has no duty to rescue a stranger, even when this could be done at little danger to oneself. However, since Jimmy’s injuries were the result of an instrument under Farmer’s control, this would probably be enough to give rise to a duty on the part of Farmer to render reasonable assistance.
But even if Farmer had such a duty to give reasonable assistance, he may have been privileged not to so do because of his right to preserve his property (by fighting the fire). This question would depend on what a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances; normally human life is considered more important than property, but since Joyce was available to take Jimmy to the hospital, Farmer may have behaved reasonably. A court might also hold that Farmer’s duty of care was lessened because of the fact that Jimmy was a trespasser (although this would contradict the rule that once a landowner discovers a particular trespasser on his property, he must behave with ordinary reasonable care towards him).
Assault by Joyce: Joyce’s use of the knife to threaten Farmer is probably a prima facie case of assault. Joyce’s threat was a conditional one, but the general rule is that this is still an assault unless she had the legal right to make Farmer comply with the threat (by taking Jimmy to the hospital). She had such a right only if this fell within Farmer’s duty of reasonable care, an open question as discussed above. In any case, even if she did have a legal right to compel him to take Jimmy, her use of a knife may have constituted an unreasonably violent way of accomplishing this result.
Conversion or trespass to chattels by Joyce: Joyce’s use of Farmer’s car to take Jimmy to the hospital may have been either conversion or trespass to chattels. It will be the latter rather than the former unless the inconvenience and harm to Farmer was substantial, which the question does not indicate it to have been.