Liability for Injuries Under the ''Rescue'' Doctrine
The rescue doctrine arises when a plaintiff brings a negligence action against a defendant whose negligence has placed a third party in a position of peril. Williams v. Foster, 281 Ill. App. 3d 203, 207, 666 N.E.2d 678, 217 Ill. Dec. 9 (1996).
"If the plaintiff is injured in the attempted rescue, he is allowed to negate a presumption that:
(1) his intentional act of rescue is the superseding cause of his injuries, thereby allowing him to prove that defendant's negligence is the proximate cause of his injuries;
(2) he is guilty of contributory negligence by the mere act of voluntarily assuming a known risk of harm unless he acts rashly or recklessly." Strickland v. Kotecki, 392 Ill. App. 3d 1099, 1102, 913 N.E.2d 80, 332 Ill. Dec. 485 (2009).
"Essentially, the doctrine provides that it is always foreseeable that someone may attempt to rescue a person who has been placed in a dangerous position and that the rescuer may incur injuries in doing so.
Therefore, if the defendant is negligent towards the rescuee, he is also negligent toward the rescuer." Williams, 281 Ill. App. 3d at 207-08.
In Williams v. Foster, 281 Ill. App. 3d 203, 207, 666 N.E.2d 678, 217 Ill. Dec. 9 (1996), the court ultimately concluded that the evidence was for a jury to decide whether the manufacturer and installer of a home's hot water heater could be found liable under the rescue doctrine for injuries sustained by the plaintiff when attempting to rescue a family from a burning home which was allegedly caused by the home's hot water heater and/or its placement. Williams, 281 Ill. App. 3d at 208-09.