Case Study: Professor Swan Cause The Death Of The Toddler

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The hypothetical situation which is being analyzed here is taken from the ideas of responsibility and omission. The scenario given is one where Professor Swan is standing close by a railroad and sees a two-year-old on the tracks. He can easily rescue the toddler without endangering himself, but he has just had a great idea for a new article and needs to jot it down before he forgets. Eventually, a train comes along and crushes the child. There are two questions being asked. The first is whether Professor Swan caused the death of the toddler, and second, if so, should he be held liable or punishable for failing to rescue the toddler.
The first thing to look at is whether professor Swan has a legal duty to rescue the child.
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The type of contract could be a lifeguard, a baby sitter, a ship’s captain, or a nurse. All of these contracts come with a duty to protect and save from harm.
According to the facts there was no contractual relationship.
Voluntary initiation of a saving action
There are instances when one can assume a duty voluntarily. For example, if a person is drowning and someone goes to their rescue, but stops at a time that precludes others from helping, they can be held criminally liable. It’s the prevention of anyone else to come to the rescue that is the major element.
Unless there were other people at the scene and he claimed that he would save the child and then failed to do so, this is not applicable either.
Nothing in the common law has created a criminal liability for professor Swan.
Misfeasance v nonfeasance
Liability that stems from negligence is based mostly on affirmative conduct that is unreasonable or inappropriate. This is called misfeasance and there is not a problem establishing fault and no special duty is required to establish liability. In our scenario professor Swan did not create the event that happened through any act of his own and misfeasance is not found without some kind of blamable
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