Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reviews Rescue Doctrine

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently had an opportunity to address the “rescue” doctrine in the case of Bole v. Erie Insurance Exchange, No. 24 WAP 2011 (Pa. Aug. 20, 2012) (opinion by Eakin, J.).

In this matter, the Claimant appealed from the Superior Court’s Order affirming an arbitration award denying the Claimant recovery of UIM benefits. The Supreme Court allowed an appeal to determine whether the rescue doctrine allowed the Claimant, a volunteer firefighter responding to a crash, to recover despite a finding that his injuries were the result of a superceding cause.

In affirming the Superior Court’s decision, the court reviewed the rescue doctrine and the finding of the divided arbitration panel that the Claimant was not entitled to UIM benefits because he was not driving to the scene of the emergency at the time of the accident. Rather, the Claimant was on his way to the fire station at the point he was involved in the accident.

If you are faced with an issue involving the rescue doctrine, this case may be one to review. The rescue doctrine provides “’[i]t is not contributory negligence for a Plaintiff to expose himself to danger in a reasonable effort to save a third person or the land or chattels of himself or a third person from harm.’” Stated otherwise, the rescue doctrine permits injured rescuers to recover when there recovery would be otherwise barred by the strict application of the doctrine of contributory negligence.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Joe Walsh of the Lansdale, Pennsylvania law firm of Walsh Pancio, LLC for bringing this case to my attention.

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