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Good Samaritans Save Woman's Life, Then Sue Her

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Though it's not all that uncommon for rescuers to sue the people they save, a lawsuit filed by David Kelley and Mark Kinkaid against Theresa Tanner, the woman they pulled from a burning car outside Marion, Ohio, has some people up in arms.

The pair, badly and permanently injured by the 2009 rescue, is seeking compensation to help with medical bills, arguing that, because Tanner's crash was actually a suicide attempt, she should be responsible for their injuries.

This story starts on the side of Route 23, where Kelley and Kinkaid noticed a flaming Hummer in a roadside embankment, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The pair jumped a fence, slid down the embankment, and proceeded to rescue Theresa Tanner, who was screaming for help.

David Kelley now has permanent lung damage and nightmares, though Mark Kinkaid's injuries are unclear.

While it's intuitively correct to argue that both men assumed the risk associated with the rescue, rescuer-rescuee lawsuits are a slightly different breed of negligence.

If a person's negligence or recklessness causes her to be put in a dangerous situation, she can be held legally responsible for any rescuer injuries so long as the rescuer acted reasonably.

This is because the rescuee's negligence is what ultimately, and foreseeably, caused the rescuer's injuries.

Theresa Tanner admitted to local officials that the crash was part of a suicide attempt, reports the Columbus Dispatch, which means that her recklessness is what caused David Kelly and Mark Kinkaid to be faced with her rescue, and ultimately to be injured.

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