Woman Sued for Rescue Effort in Car Crash
**Legal Experts Say California Ruling Could Make Good Samaritans Hesitate **
No good deed goes unpunished, or so goes the saying.
Such was the case with Lisa Torti, who is being sued for pulling a now-paralyzed friend from the wreckage of a Los Angeles car accident in 2004.
The victim’s lawyers claim the Good Samaritan bumbled the rescue and caused injury by yanking her friend “like a rag doll” to safety.
But Torti – now a 30-year-old interior designer from Las Vegas – said she thought she had seen smoke and feared the car would explode. She claims she was only trying to help her friend, Alexandra Van Horn, and her own life has been adversely affected by the incident.
The California Supreme Court ruled this week that Van Horn may sue Torti for allegedly causing her friend’s paralysis. The case – the first of its kind – challenges the state’s liability shield law that protects people who give emergency assistance.
The court ruled 4-3 that only those administering medical care have legal immunity, but not those like Torti, who merely take rescue action. The justices said that the perceived danger to Van Horn in the wrecked car was not “medical.”
The court majority said the 1980 Emergency Medical Service Act, which Torti’s lawyers cited for protection, was intended only to encourage people to learn first aid and use it in emergencies, not to give Good Samaritans blanket immunity when they act negligently.
But some legal experts say the ruling may discourage people from trying to save lives.
I feel horrible for this woman – and for everybody who may ever need to be rescued in future.
“Hang on, pal, I’m calling 911! Sorry, my cell phone is dead. Bye.”