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N Cal Attorney
N Cal Attorney, Attorney
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What are the legal requirements in Texas for the American Bystander

Customer Question

What are the legal requirements in Texas for the American Bystander Rule and Good Samaritan Doctrine? I understand the American Bystander Rule means you have no duty to render aid to a stranger in peril, even if doing so would pose little or no risk of injury to you, and that the good samaritan doctrine imposes a legal duty to render aid in some situations like if you knew the victim or caused the incident. But, I also read that in some states like Rhode Island, even if you don't know the victim or had any involvement, if you knew about the incident and didn't at least report it, you can be held liable for criminal charges. Does this apply to Texas as well?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question.

There is a Texas Law Review article from Texas Law Review, Vol. 84, Nbr. 3, February 2006, posted at
http://s3.amazonaws.com/zanran_storage/www.utexas.edu/ContentPages/81753125.pdf
which states:
"Three states have enacted statutory duties to rescue: Vermont, Rhode Island, and Minnesota."

So Texas still follows the traditional common law rule of no duty to rescue.

I hope this information is helpful.

N Cal Attorney, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 8120
Experience: since 1983
N Cal Attorney and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ok, so does that mean that in Texas, if I walk upon a stranger who is suffering from a heart attack or a baby is drowning, legally I don't have to render aid to either of them? Now, I would still help them from a moral and ethical perspective. So, with the Good Samaritan Doctrine that imposes a legal duty to render aid to imperiled strangers, in Texas, that only applies if you have a preemptive duty or obligation to help the victim such as you are a police officer, paramedic, or if you're a parent and it's one of your children? But, if it someone I do not know at all or have any connections with, I do not have to render aid because I had no duty to rescue them, even if doing so poses no risk of injury to myself, correct? Again, I would still do it regardless.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I also found this article:


 


http://legalblogwatch.typepad.com/legal_blog_watch/2009/11/ten-states-impose-a-statutory-duty-to-rescue.html


 


It lists a total of ten states that have imposed a duty to rescue statute.


 


California, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

One other question. Let's say that my refusal to render aid to the victim results in that person's condition to get worse or they die, I would not be held liable for prosecution due to the fact that I had no duty to rescue them?

Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for accepting my answer.

California does not impose a duty to rescue. It imposes a limited duty to report crimes against children.

Penal Code 152.3. (a) Any person who reasonably believes that he or she has
observed the commission of any of the following offenses where the victim is a child under the age of 14 years shall notify a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2:
(1) Murder.
(2) Rape.
(3) A violation of paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 288 of the Penal Code.
(b) This section shall not be construed to affect privileged relationships as provided by law.
(c) The duty to notify a peace officer imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) is satisfied if the notification or an attempt to provide notice is made by telephone or any other means.
(d) Failure to notify as required pursuant to subdivision (a) is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500), by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than six months, or by both that fine and
imprisonment.
(e) The requirements of this section shall not apply to the following:
(1) A person who is related to either the victim or the offender, including a husband, wife, parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, or other person related by consanguinity or affinity.
(2) A person who fails to report based on a reasonable mistake of fact.
(3) A person who fails to report based on a reasonable fear for his or her own safety or for the safety of his or her family.

I trust the law review article I cited more than the blog you found. Any fool can write a blog, but law review articles are normally checked for accuracy prior to publication.

You wrote:
does that mean that in Texas, if I walk upon a stranger who is suffering from a heart attack or a baby is drowning, legally I don't have to render aid to either of them?

That is correct, there is no general duty to rescue in Texas.

You wrote:

One other question. Let's say that my refusal to render aid to the victim results in that person's condition to get worse or they die, I would not be held liable for prosecution due to the fact that I had no duty to rescue them?

 

That is correct, you could not be prosecuted for failure to aid a stranger in distress.

Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.
http://www.volokh.com/2009/11/03/duty-to-rescuereport-statutes/
is the original blog cited in the blog you found. It is talking about a duty to report certain crimes, not a general duty to rescue.
N Cal Attorney, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 8120
Experience: since 1983
N Cal Attorney and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

One last request. Could you give me the references to the laws in Texas that state you do not have a general duty to rescue?

Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much for the bonuses!

The absence of a general duty to rescue by a person who did not create the hazard requiring a rescue is a common law rule, so there is no Texas statute that says that.

http://images.jw.com/com/publications/155.pdf
cites RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 314 (1965) for the proposition that: "As a general rule, no one has a duty to aid or protect another person."

That section of the Restatement is cited by the Texas Court of Appeals opinion posted at
http://www.3rdcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/htmlopinion.asp?OpinionId=18625
which states:
"A party who negligently creates a dangerous situation has a duty to attempt to prevent injury to others if it reasonably appears or should appear to him that others in the exercise of their lawful rights may be injured thereby. SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Doe, 903 S.W.2d 347, 353 (Tex. 1995) (citing Buchanan v. Rose, 159 S.W.2d 109, 110 (Tex. 1942)). However, a mere bystander who did not create a dangerous situation generally is not required to intervene and prevent injury to others. See id.; see also Restatement (Second) of Torts § 314 ("The fact that [an] actor realizes or should realize that action on his part is necessary for another's aid or protection does not of itself impose upon him a duty to take such action.")."

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