Suing Supers: Good Samaritan or Negligent Ne’er-do-well?

Good Samaritan Super Heroes

Seeing the good guys outwit the bad guys, thwart their plans, and save people from getting hurt is the best part of superhero movies.

But the more superhero movies you watch, the more you realize that some of the heroes in the movies cause a lot of destruction and injuries in the act of saving people.

As lawyers, we are enjoy these movies, but we sometimes find our minds wandering to thoughts like, “Could you sue Spiderman for ripping a hole in your office and endangering employees just so he can save people on a runaway train?”

We know we aren’t the only ones wondering this because the issue of damages caused by superheroes comes front-and-center in the Pixar classic The Incredibles.

The Case of Mr. Incredible

The premise of the movie The Incredibles begins with a news broadcast describing how Mr. Incredible saved a man, Oliver Sansweet, from plummeting to his death.

The man was trying to commit suicide when Mr. Incredible saved him, but his neck was broken in the process. The fact that Sansweet was injured during the rescue is where the complication arises.

Sansweet was successful in suing Mr. Incredible, leading to many more cases being filed against Mr. Incredible and other superheroes in the town of Metroville.

Mr. Incredible was sued shortly after for saving people on a runaway train, causing injuries to the passengers.

One superhero with x-ray vision was sued for invasion of privacy.

Another was sued for damaging a landmark and injuring people in the process of a heroic act.

The last incident shown is DynaGuy being sued for public endangerment.

The news story can be seen in this clip from The Incredibles.

Were these superheroes simply being Good Samaritans, or were they acting with vigilante justice?

What is a Good Samaritan?

A Good Samaritan is a regular person who attempts to help someone else who is in some sort of distress.

Whether saving someone from choking, or in our example saving someone from falling to their death, incidents like these fall under Good Samaritan Law.

Good Samaritan laws are written to help encourage ordinary citizens to step in and help during emergency situations.

The laws help protect these people from repercussions such as being sued for breaking someone’s ribs when saving them from choking.

The problem with these laws is that there are many shades of grey when determining if someone was acting as a Good Samaritan. The laws also vary by state.

Who is Protected by the Good Samaritan Law?

You would think that if you saved someone’s life, not only would they be grateful, but you would also think that you wouldn’t be liable for any incidental injuries that occurred as a result of your actions since you were “doing the right thing”.

This isn’t always the case. It depends on your role in the incident and what state you live in.

We are never told what state Metroville from The Incredibles is located in, so we can’t pinpoint the exact laws that would apply to our example case.

For the purpose of this article, we will define the laws in both Iowa and Illinois instead.

Iowa

In Iowa, Good Samaritan Law states that you are immune from liability for negligence if you render emergency assistance in good faith without compensation.

This means that if Metroville were located in Iowa, Mr. Incredible would likely not be found guilty of negligence for saving Mr. Sansweet or the train passengers because he was acting in good faith during an emergency.

It’s important to note that this law protects anyone who is helping unless “acts or omissions constitute recklessness”.

This means that if Mr. incredible damaged a building or others were injured, as may have been the case in the train wreck incident, he could be held liable if a jury found he acted with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property.

Illinois

Illinois, on the other hand, has much more limited protections for people who act as Good Samaritans.

While the Good Samaritan Laws work in the same way, granting immunity to those who act to save others, Illinois limits this immunity to only certain people and certain situations.

For instance, in Illinois, you are considered a Good Samaritan when you render first aid to someone only if you are certified in first aid “by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or the National Safety Council.”

In the case of Metroville being located in Illinois, it’s likely that Mr. Incredible isn’t considered a Good Samaritan, and therefore would be acting without the protection of the law.

The Final Verdict on the Mr. Incredible Case

In the case of Mr. Incredible, the verdict might vary by state.

In Iowa, Mr. Incredible would likely not be liable for saving Sansweet. Mr. Incredible saved Sansweet from certain death, even though he injured him in the process. A jury might be hard pressed to find that Mr. Incredible had willful and wanton disregard for Sansweet’s safety.

In Illinois, on the other hand, Mr. Incredible might be liable if he did not exercise reasonable care when he swooped in to save Sansweet. For instance, Mr. Incredible might be considered negligent if he flew through the air so fast that he broke Sansweet’s neck if such super speed wasn’t technically necessary for the rescue. Even so, a jury in the real world might not be sympathetic to Sansweet’s case considering his alternative was an untimely demise.

Contact VanDerGinst Law

If you have been injured while being saved by Mr. Incredible, or for any other reason, we would be happy to talk with you about your injury case, free of charge.

We’ve had a lot of fun in this article discussing what-if situations, but we know that injuries are very real and can be devastating to your finances and your way of life.

We also know that no amount of money can compensate you for the pain and suffering you are going through, but we fight hard to get what you are owed.

At VanDerGinst Law, all costs are advanced, and you pay us nothing on your injury case unless we win. That means no attorney fees, no retainers, no paying to obtain records, and we don’t get paid unless your case settles or wins in court.

Contact VanDerGinst Law today for a free consultation, or call us at 800-797-5391. We are available 24/7 by phone, email, or on our website.

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The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.