Shouldn’t We Honor Helpers?

The California Justices recently ruled that someone who helped another during an accident is liable for any harm. We should honor helpers, not make them liable–The California Supreme Court ruled a few days ago that if someone renders help to someone else and the person who has been helped is hurt, then the helper is liable. Alexandra Van Horn was in the front seat of a car that slammed into a pole. Lisa Torti, her friend who was a passenger in a car that was following, pulled her out after the accident. Van Horn is now a paraplegic and claims that it is the result of Torti having “pulled her like a rag doll.” Van Horn is now suing Torti and the California Supreme Court unanimously said Van Horn has a case and Torti is liable and can be sued. A trial will now have to determine if Van Horn is ultimately liable, if her actions did cause the paraplegia.
It’s difficult for someone who upholds the values I do, values where other-orientedness is paramount, to see how Alexandra Van Horn would sue not only her helper but her friend. But the issue here is beyond the personal relationship of these two people. Laws are meant to make the society more just, supposed to smooth out the rough edges that usually stem from people’s imperfections, flaws, even evil. And yet by validating Van Horn’s claim that Torti is liable the California Justices are creating an environment where helpers will have to think twice about rendering help. Laws ought to honor our better angels, and this ruling does the opposite. In the end it may be that Torti will be found innocent of the harm she is accused of having inflicted, but that’s not the point, the point is that acting in good faith to help another human being, she ought to be hailed, not punished.