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Law School Case Brief

Tubbs v. Argus - 140 Ind. App. 695, 225 N.E.2d 841 (1967)

Rule:

At common law, there is no general duty to aid a person who is in peril. Under some circumstances, moral and humanitarian consideration may require one to render assistance to another who has been injured, even though the injury was not due to the negligence on his part and may have been caused by the negligence of the injured party. Failure to render assistance in such a situation may constitute actionable negligence if the injury is aggravated through lack of due care.

Facts:

Plaintiff passenger filed suit against defendant driver for injuries sustained as a result of the driver's failure to render reasonable aid and assistance to the passenger after an automobile accident caused by the driver. The trial court sustained the driver's demurrer.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in dismissing the passenger's suit for failure to state a cause of action?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

On appeal, the court reversed the order sustaining the driver's demurrer and remanded for further proceedings. The court found that Ind. Stat. Ann. § 47-1021 was only applicable to injuries resulting from the operation of an automobile and did not limit the driver's liability for additional injuries to acts of wanton and wilful misconduct. The court found that the passenger did state a cause of action because there might have been a legal obligation to take positive or affirmative steps to effect the rescue of a person who was helpless and in a situation of peril where the injury resulted from the use of an instrumentality under the control of the driver.

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