Duty to Rescue

Having discussed the bystander rule in the first week of Introduction to Law and with tort law coming up this week, this chart “of state statutes that impose a duty to rescue crime victims, or report crimes” from The Volokh Conspiracy is timely.  The chart covers only ten statutes that apply to the general public, not special duties imposed by legislation on “doctors, teachers, and the like.”  All of the statutes listed save Ohio’s exempt a bystander if rescuing or reporting would imperil the bystander.   Thus in Vermont “a person who knows that another is exposed to grave physical harm shall  . . . give reasonable assistance to the exposed person unless that assistance or care is being provided by others . . .  to the extent that the [assistance] can be rendered without danger or peril to himself or without interference with important duties owed to others.”  Remember the final episode of Seinfeld where Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer watch, video, and laugh about a nearby assault, and then are arrested and convicted for not coming to the victim’s aid?  I was not aware there is a Massachusetts statute that might actually apply:  “Whoever knows that another person is a victim of aggravated rape, rape, murder, manslaughter or armed robbery [or hazing] and is at the scene of said crime shall report said crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable to the extent that said person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others.”  A violator faces a fine of up to $2,500 or, in a case of hazing, up to $1,000.  Some statutes impose the duty only in situations involving crimes against children, others apply more generally to situations involving “bodily harm” or “grave physical harm.”

7 thoughts on “Duty to Rescue”

  1. It looks like Mass / NY or Mass / RI, not sure yet which secondary bar I will look at yet, still have a while to go before figuring that out.

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