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Often, whenever someone is seriously injured or in danger, bystanders come to the rescue. Part of the fabric that holds us together as a society is the moral obligation to help each other whenever someone is in physical danger.

Have you ever wondered if there is a legal duty to be a Good Samaritan? The answer is, generally you cannot be sued or arrested for not intervening in an emergency situation — at least, if you did not cause the situation in the first place.

Rescued, then fled the scene

A New Jersey man was arrested in January after escaping his car as it sank in the Delaware River, only to flee the scene while his girlfriend was still trapped inside. According to WNBC-TV, the man crashed his car into a parked van, which launched the car over the river wall and through the ice.

Witnesses helped the man get out of the car. Instead of trying to help his girlfriend, 23, get out too, he allegedly told the witnesses to do it before leaving the scene. Firefighters arrived and pulled out the woman, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police tracked down the driver to a nearby light rail line, stopped the train and arrested him. He is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, endangering an injured victim and causing death while driving with a suspended license.

New Jersey’s Good Samaritan Act

New Jersey has a Good Samaritan law that protects people from nearly all personal injury lawsuits if they try to help someone else after an accident but something goes wrong. This is to encourage people to take action, even if they are afraid of making a mistake.

However, there is no excuse for dangerous driving. If you have been hurt in a wreck with a negligent driver, you could be entitled to substantial financial compensation.