Carving out a limited exception to the “innocent bystander” rule, a New Jersey state appeals court says a passenger may have a duty to summon help after an accident if the driver fails to do so.

Central to the court’s ruling in Podias v. Mairs, A-6312-05, was the finding that the passengers were far more than innocent bystanders, whose passive inaction traditionally is not a basis for liability. Rather, the passengers left a motorcyclist struck by their car in the road without summoning help, and he died.

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