Emergency Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Emergency doctrine is a principle that allows individuals to take action in the face of a sudden or urgent need for aid, without being subject to normal standards of reasonable care. It exempts a person from the ordinary standard of reasonable care if that person acted instinctively to meet a sudden and urgent need for aid. For example, when a driver, surprised by a pedestrian who steps out from between two parked cars, swerves to miss the pedestrian but then hits another car.

It can also be the legal principle by which consent to medical treatment in a dire situation is inferred when neither the patient nor a responsible party can consent but a reasonable person would do so.

Emergency doctrine is also used to refer to the principle whereby a police officer may conduct a search without a warrant if the officer has probable cause and reasonably believes that immediate action is needed to protect life or property.

Emergency doctrine is also called imminent-peril doctrine or sudden-emergency doctrine.