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“Rescue Doctrine” Discussed in Recent Court of Appeals Case

In a run-of-the-mill negligence case, a defendant may be liable to a plaintiff when he or she creates a dangerous situation and a plaintiff is injured. However, what happens when a defendant creates a dangerous situation, places a person in danger, and someone else is injured while trying to rescue the endangered person? In a recent Florida court of appeals case, the court addressed this exact question. passage-748553-m

Menendez v. Wet Gables Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC

In the case, Menendez v. West Gables Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC, a court of appeals had the opportunity to discuss what has come to be known as the “Rescue Doctrine,” that allows those who are injured while trying to help another in danger recover for their injuries. In Menendez, the plaintiff was injured while she was in a facility operated by West Gables.

Evidently, Menendez was in the hall while a patient was undergoing physical therapy, and that patient fell, taking Menendez down with her. Menendez sued, alleging two potential theories of negligence: first that the premises was unsafe and second that the malpractice of the physical therapist caused the patient to fall, ultimately caused Menendez’s injuries. Finding no merit to either of her claims, the trial judge dismissed her case. On appeal, Menendez claimed that she was entitled to relief under the Rescue Doctrine. The Rescue Doctrine allows a plaintiff to recover when:

  • The defendant was negligent;
  • As a result of the defendant’s negligence, the person to be rescued was in imminent peril; and
  • The rescuer acted reasonably under the circumstances.

The Court of Appeals Affirms the Trial Court’s Dismissal

The court of appeals used the opportunity to briefly discuss the Rescue Doctrine and its applicability to cases like this, noting, “[t]he basic precept of this doctrine is that the person who has created a situation of peril for another will be held in law to have caused peril not only to the victim, but also to his rescuer.” However, ultimately, the court of appeals failed to actually consider Menendez’s claim because she did not raise this theory of negligence below in the trial court. As a result, Menendez will not have her claim considered under the Rescue Doctrine.

Raising All Theories of Liability at Trial

This case raises a critical point about personal injury law, and the law in general: in most cases, an appellate court will not permit a litigant to make new arguments on appeal. For this reason, it is critically important that Georgia litigants are prepared at trial and make all necessary arguments at the appropriate time.

Are You Considering Bringing a Georgia Personal Injury Action?

If you have been recently injured in a Georgia accident, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney as soon as possible. As you can see from the case above, a plaintiff may lose a case because an argument was forgotten. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact Miller Legal Services, LLC and speak to an experienced and dedicate attorney who will thoughtfully and diligently handle your case. Click here, or call 770-284-3727 to schedule your free initial consultation today.