In the face of danger and injury, what do you do to help another person? If a physician pulls over at the scene of an accident and finds someone in need, what can they do to deliver health care? What happens if the person involved in the accident doesn’t survive after care is delivered? These are all things to consider dealing with California’s Good Samaritan Law.
Good Samaritan Laws protect the Good Samaritan in the situation from liability if consequences arise from their assistance; for example, say the person receiving the help passes away. These laws take place in each state, all varying in some form. To be protected, certain conditions typically need to be met. These include the person needing assistance should be in imminent peril or danger, the physician’s actions shouldn’t be negligent and should be reasonable, and the physician’s actions should be based on good faith and not on receiving some form of compensation.
Safety Code 1799.102 in California
California’s Safety Code states:
- No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission. The scene of an emergency shall not include emergency departments and other places where medical care is usually offered. This subdivision applies only to the medical, law enforcement, and emergency personnel specified in this chapter.
- It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage other individuals to volunteer, without compensation, to assist others in need during an emergency, while ensuring that those volunteers who provide care or assistance act responsibly.
Without Payment or Reward
Good Samaritan Laws are put in place as a way to protect people for no other reason than to help them with kindness in mind. It is for coming to the aid of fellow human beings in need. The general concept implies that you are helping without any expectation of payment or reward. This will keep you immune from liability for things becoming messed up for any reason while you are trying to help.
However, Good Samaritan Laws do not always exempt people from liability. These laws will not cover activity during performance of regular or assigned job duties, provide protection from liability in a federal civil rights lawsuit, or provide protection for volunteer athletic events. They will also not provide protection from liability if it is declared that the physician acted in a negligent manner or out of the scope of his or her training. Most state laws contain some degree of immunity from either criminal or civil penalties in an emergency situation.
History of the Good Samaritan Laws
These laws were initially intended to protect physicians and others with medical training; however, court decisions and legislative changes helped laws evolve to include those who are untrained. Not all Good Samaritan laws will limit protection of untrained rescuers. For instance, Vermont provides immunity from liability specifically for untrained rescuers, as long as there isn’t gross negligence involved. In Alabama, the code restricts protection to trained rescuers or employees of the public education system, unless the victim suffers from cardiac arrest.
If you have saved the life of another person but a suit has been filed against you for injuries, you may have a case. You may also have a case if you were the victim of an attempt at a Good Samaritan Law being executed but failing, leaving you with more injuries. Speak to an attorney that you can trust. Call WTW today for a consultation!