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The law also allows leeway to people who act under emergency circumstances that they did not create.
Ordinarily, if the emergency arises suddenly and unexpectedly, requires immediate action without time for deliberation-- or appears to require immediate action -- and was not caused by the negligence of the person whose conduct is being judged, the jury will be instructed that they should take the emergency circumstances into account.
While instructions vary substantially from place to place, the intent of the instruction is to inform jurors that an instinctive reaction is not negligent under emergency circumstances.
The emergency doctrine, along with Good Samaritan laws and the rescuer concept, help to shield people who assist drivers in trouble. The emergency doctrine is also applicable in vessel collision cases, if the accident happens fast enough.
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