It all began when Jason Wilson was
hitting a tent stake against a tree. A piece
of the stake then broke off and struck
him in the eye. He was at the home of
Jessica LaPierre, his aunt, when the incident occurred between 1 and 1: 30 p.m.
LaPierre and another of Jason’s aunts,
Nicole Ruez, both looked at his eye and
saw only a cut on his eyelid. They contacted his mother, Rene Haselman, who
called Cumberland Hospital and relayed
the aunts’ observations. Hospital staff
told Haselman to bring him in immediately, but she decided to wait until she
picked him up at 5 p.m.
In the meantime, the aunts asked Jason’s grandparents, Mary and Earl Wilson, to examine his eye as well. They both
saw only the cut on the eyelid. At that
point, no one had pulled Jason’s eyelid
up for a closer look because he was not
When Haselman picked Jason up after
4: 30 p.m., she pulled his eyelid down and
saw what “looked like a tongue coming
out of his eye.” After going to Cumber-
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Let’s say you witnessed a car accident involving a friend. Would you rush over to pull him
or her from the wreckage? That is just what one Calif. woman decided to do, and as a result
she is now being blamed for causing her friend permanent spine damage and rendering the
woman a paraplegic.
In 2004, Lisa Torti was the passenger in a car that slammed into a light post at 45 miles per hour.
Her friend Alexandra Van Horn was a passenger in a nearby vehicle—a group of friends had
been out drinking together and left the bar at the same time—and immediately rushed to
Van Horn claimed she lifted Torti from the vehicle with extreme care, as Van Horn believed she had
seen smoke and liquid coming from the car and feared it would catch fire or explode, killing
her friend. Others say they witnessed Van Horn drag Torti out of the car “like a rag doll” and
did not see any smoke.
In 2008, a divided California Supreme Court ruled that Torti was not protected from civil liability, as
immunity would have only applied had she been providing emergency medical care according
to Calif. law.
Source: The Washington Post
land Hospital and transferring to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., Jason
had surgery at 10: 23 p.m. The surgeon
was unable to fully repair the damage because Jason’s iris had been outside of his
eye for too long. Consequently, part of
the iris had to be removed.
Jason and his mother sued Trade Lake,
the Wilson’s homeowners’ insurer, stating
that its failure to obtain immediate medi-
cal attention worsened his injury. A jury
found the Wilsons to be 40-percent re-
sponsible for the worsened injuries. The
the enhanced injuries. However, it con-
cluded that this did not mean the Wil-
sons were automatically liable.
The courts must verify whether aid was
administered without any objection from the
person being helped.
insurer appealed and challenged the negligence finding.
The jury instruction in the case quoted
the good Samaritan rule adopted by the
Wisconsin Supreme Court, which “re-
quires one who voluntarily assumes a
duty that is necessary for the protection
of another to exercise ordinary care in
the performance of the duty, if the cir-
cumstances are such that the failure to do
so increases the risk of harm to another.”
The lower court determined that the
jury could reasonably find that Jason’s
grandparents owed a duty of care based
on the Supreme Court’s rule, and that a
causal connection existed between the
delay in obtaining medical attention and
the Wilsons’ negligence and wholly out
of proportion to the Wilsons’ culpability.”
Although the homeowners’ negligence
in this instance was found to be insuffi-
cient to account for the enhancement of
the injury, that is not the case for all in-
sureds who discover they can be culpable
if things go wrong. Depending on the ju-
risdiction, insureds may find some pro-
tection under good Samaritan statutes. K
Susan Massmann, CPCU, is managing
editor of electronic publications for the
reference division of Summit Business
Media, the parent company of National
Underwriter and Claims. She may be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.