You're coming home from work, driving on an empty road. Then you come around the corner and find a car that ran off the road, hit a tree, and flipped.
It looks like it just happened, and the dust is still clearing. You pull over, run up to the car, and find that the driver is stuck inside the vehicle. Should you help?
Playing the Hero
Instinctively, helping may seem like the right thing to do. You're not trying to be a hero, but it's often viewed that way by others. Your gut tells you that you should pull the person out, make sure he or she is all right, and then lend whatever aid you can until the ambulance arrives. You might even be able to save his or her life.
One thing to consider, though, is whether or not you're going to be held liable. Sure, you're just trying to help, but you don't have any training. You don't have any experience. What if you pull the person out, make the injuries worse and then find yourself facing a lawsuit? It's happened.
For instance, maybe the person has a back injury. He or she winds up being paralyzed from the waist down. As the person recovers, they blame you for wrenching them from the car, while it was upside-down, and making the injury far worse than it was from the wreck. He or she says that, had you just allowed the paramedics to arrive and do the extraction professionally, the paralysis wouldn't have occurred.
If You're Injured
There is, of course, another way to look at this. Maybe you were in that lead car, the one that ran off of the road. Maybe the next driver, acting quickly and recklessly -- and hoping to be lauded as a hero in the local news -- dragged you roughly from the car. Now you'll never walk again.
If something like this happens to you, be sure you know who is liable and what rights you have to financial compensation.
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