SAR volunteer may sue victims he was searching for when he was injured

Sort of a reverse from the normal situation

A 19 and a 20-year-old idiot got lost earlier this spring in Trabuco Canyon, California. During the search for the men, one SAR volunteer fell over a cliff breaking his back. One of the lost men had a significant quantity of drugs in his car, and the two were suspected of being high, thus the cause of them getting lost.

If the lost victim completes a drug diversion program, this will not allow the injured SAR volunteer from seeking compensation for his injuries, which allegedly total $350,000.

There are two problems with the issue of suing the idiots.

1.   They probably don’t have a dime to their name which means it would be a waste of time and money.

2.   I’m not sure of the necessary legal connection, proximate cause, or link between being allegedly illegally high and lost connects to a volunteer who falls off a cliff.

You sort of hope he can, but I think this will open up a bigger can of worms than charging for rescues. See the Facebook page No Charge for Rescue.

See SAR Volunteer to Sue Trabuco Teens

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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9 Comments on “SAR volunteer may sue victims he was searching for when he was injured”

  1. People have been getting lost in the woods since there have been people and woods. Now we have quasi organized groups who go look for those lost people. I’ve never met anyone who was lost in the woods, who went out to get lost and then was found. (Those who want to get lost are not found until much later.) As such, there was no “intent” to get lost or cause injury to anyone searching from them, high, drunk or straight.


  2. Austin Cloud says:

    I believe that it shouldn’t be the kids fault even though they were looking for them it’s still irrelevant for them to be held responsible for a saftey issue that the SAR should have been in control of. They should be the one that compensates him and should increase saftey protocol. Dont you think?


  3. Ashley Morgan says:

    I think that the guy who got injured while looking for the lost victims is being a bit over the top outrageous. Search and rescue is all done through volunteer work right? He volunteered for the job knowing that he would be out looking for people and that the terrain could be a bit dangerous. I understand that he got injured while trying to do the right thing, but that shouldn’t give him the right to sue the lost people regardless if they had been doing drugs.


  4. Sparhawk says:

    Thanks for sharing Jim. I have difficulty understanding what is really going on here. I agree with your causation and deep pocket points. But further: 1) Seemingly the argument is that a lost party has a duty to those who voluntarily choose to try to assist the lost individual. I am not aware of any such duty. Are you? 2) How is it that insurance company(ies) are not involved in all of this? 3) Did the volunteer really not have work comp insurance through a gov’t agency or the rescue team? Is the insurance company really behind this or is this all a political stunt? 4) The county sheriff or gov’t agency responsible for SAR in CA should be a party to this suit, as should the incident commander and probably a host of other parties. (maybe they are, neither article provides enough detail) 5) If the plaintiff wins, does the volunteer really expect anyone to ever call for help again? The apparent line of reasoning opens a pandora’s box of potential liability concerns for a victim regardless of whether the victim’s actions were intentional, felonious, reckless, ignorant, or accidental. This sounds very much against the spirit of volunteerism and from a public policy standpoint the suit should fail. If by some chance the plaintiff is successful, I advise everyone in CA to consider obtaining a general liability insurance policy. What a way for insurance companies to make more profit. 6) Not naming both hikers in the suit may allow the one to shift blame the other (non-party to the action). I don’t know the negligence laws of CA but this seems pretty basic. 7) Alternatively, maybe the reality makes sense and the authors didn’t explain the situation well enough. While Mr. Papageorge’s situation is a tragedy, this legal action forces me to question various things about his character. I hope he receiving appropriate and reasonable legal advice, but then what attorney would take this on a contingency basis?

    Additionally, it will be interesting to see what happens if CA adopts an illegal and reckless behavior standard.

    On a tangent, if this lawsuit goes away, I believe the right thing for the two lost parties to do is figure out a way to assist Mr. Papageorge.


  5. Who is SAR? Where is SAR? SAR is an acronym for Search and Rescue. Sometimes there may not be anything other than a phone list.


  6. Hannah Wilkerson says:

    SAR should be responsible for their volunteer getting hurt. There should be safety instructions to prevent something like this. The two lost have nothing to do with it. Yes they should have not been high, but people do dumb things and that is part of the job.


  7. julian says:

    SAR should be fully responsible for their volunteer that was injured while searching for another lost guy on the property. The two men are over the age of 18 and should be responsible for themselves. Their should be a waiver for any workers or volunteers that have to be on the site with potential injury proned areas.


  8. The problem is that when people believe they are going to be charged for rescues, they wait. That always makes the rescue harder and the victim in worst shape. Summit County Colorado has more than a hundred examples of this problem. You should check out the FaceBook page No Charge for Rescue. It explains why charging for a rescue costs the state more money than not charging.

    On top of that, as another commenter said, would the rescuer gone after the victims if he knew they were high or drug dealers? If so then how can he sue now?

    Thanks for the comment.


  9. Shawn Lokie says:

    I believe that the hikers should be held accountable for their actions due to that fact that it is their negligence that caused an individual to be injured. I believe they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and it should be the decision of a judge of jury as to how much of the negligence they are responsible for.


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