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In the new Flash series, we often see The Flash zooming around town, rocking cars & shattering windows for several feet around. At least one legal blog seems to think he would quickly find himself in Small Claims Court - secret identity or not. And since the Arrowverse tries to take a more realistic look at life as a superhero, it brings up a good question:

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Has anyone involved with the show commented on this fact and whether or not Barry's liability for all this damage will be addressed in a future episode of the show?

Note: Thanks go to Nerrolken for the image.

  • If his secret identity was revealed, he would be personally liable for hundreds of millions (possibly even billions) in punitive damages. He'd also face serious criminal charges (multi-decadal sentences) unless he could secure some kind of immunity plea. – Valorum May 29 '15 at 20:25
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    @Richard : that's what I'm guessing, and at the rate it's going the whole city will know who he is eventually. Heck, I thought for a second Joe was going to tell the DA in "Rogue Air". – Omegacron May 29 '15 at 20:28
  • "if his secret identity was revealed". sucks to be barry. – phantom42 May 29 '15 at 20:32
  • @phantom42 Sshhhh!!! You're going to give it away! – Nerrolken May 29 '15 at 20:50
  • 1, serve him legal papers. 2, prove it was the flash that caused the damage (in universe). – user16696 May 30 '15 at 2:03
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Yeah, probably...

Legally, it seems pretty cut-and-dry. He could argue that the damages were unavoidable in the pursuit of saving lives, but then if I floored it to a crime scene in my car and smashed a bunch of cars along the way, it probably wouldn't hold up.

The only exception to this is during his actions as a member of the Justice League. I don't know that it has ever been explored, but the JL seems to have some sort of "official" nature. In Justice League Unlimited, Green Lantern mentions not being able to operate in certain countries, for example. Their relationship with the US Government, while rocky at times, is also often quite close, and they often act like they have official authority in their dealings with criminals and rogue governments.

If the JL has some kind of "authorization" or other official endorsement, damages from their fights may be the liability of the US Government or other agency. This would be equivalent to the way that an individual soldier isn't responsible for the damage done during a battle.

But other than that, there's probably no real defense for all the incidental damage done by many superheroes, Flash included.

...but it'll never happen.

One of the most charming elements of the Flash's mythos is his relationship with Central City. Simply put, they love that guy.

flash appreciation day

He's got a Flash Museum, and they hold Flash Appreciation Days. They don't fear him, like Gotham does Batman, and they don't even look up to him, like Metropolis does Superman. They love him like a pal, and they treat him like one.

In the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, Flash is shown offering medical advice to little old ladies, playing golf with random dudes, and even remembering individual citizen's birthdays. He goes all out to find toys for local orphans on Christmas. He's more than a boy scout, like Superman, he's everyone's best bud.

In the CW live-action show, Flash is shown painting houses, dropping off flowers for fighting couples, and more, in addition to saving people's lives on a daily basis. He's obviously just getting started as a superhero and public figure, but they're clearly building toward that kind of relationship with his city. From the pilot (in which Oliver Queen tells Barry he can be better than a vigilante because he can "inspire people") to the Season 1 finale (in which we catch a glimpse of the Flash Museum), the whole show seems very aware that the Flash will be beloved by his people.

So, even in a discussion of "superheroes being held accountable for their actions," I think the Flash would be the last superhero to be sued by his city. Frankly, they probably think of a broken window as an exciting sign that the Flash was nearby, and anyone grumbling about battle damage would likely be ostracized by his friends and community for being ungrateful for the Flash's service to the city.

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    Still, someone has to pay to fix that. If they make an insurance claim, the insurance company has a huge dollar amount overall in costs. – Random832 May 30 '15 at 2:26
  • In the CW live-action show, Flash is shown painting houses, dropping off flowers for fighting couples, and more. Which episode please ? I don't remember that ! – Kalissar May 18 '16 at 8:22
  • @Kalissar I don't remember specifically, but I think it's in the first half of the first season. It's early in his "Flash" career, at least. The episode opens with a voiceover monologue from Barry, and there's a montage of him speeding by and helping out citizens all over Central City. He paints a house, nudges two people closer on a park bench, drops flowers onto the table of and old couple looking angry, etc. – Nerrolken May 18 '16 at 17:37
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The Flash has a colorable defense under the legal fiction known as quasi-contract. If the Flash damages your car while rushing to stop a speeding train you may try to sue for damages. However, quasi contract asks the question - if you had the time to bargain, would you have allowed the Flash to damage your car in order to stop the train? If the answer is Yes then you have a quasi contract and the Flash gets away clean. Now, if the insurance company was involved of course they wouldn't sacrifice a covered car to stop a train. Unless they covered the train and its passengers!

  • There's also the possibility of the Good Samaritan laws applying as well. The question of how insurance works in a world where there are superheroes is so rich an area that it may never be fully addressed. I think it's safe to say that policies are absurdly high in cities where superheroes proliferate, so much so that the government might possibly subsidize the premiums. I think there's a Worldbuilding question here... – VBartilucci Jan 10 at 16:37

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