Their formal patients, if they suspect they have been injured by the negligence of the medical professional, should retain some degree of ability to seek a remedy from the medical professional for that injury. To have the greatest effectiveness, a Good Samaritan law must protect both medical professionals and bystanders. In the European countries that attach responder protection laws to their duty-to-act laws, compensation is also occasionally available to responders who are injured while assisting in an emergency. By Jay C. Weaver, ALB, JD, EMT-P, Attorney, Adjunct Faculty, Northeastern University Institute for Emergency Medical Services, Boston, MA.. Retrieved from South China Morning Post: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1293475/shenzhen-introduces-good-samaritan-law, 4. Common examples include such emergencies as a seriously injured intoxicated person, some stroke patients, and hypoglycemic diabetics. While it is reasonable for a bystander to be asked to provide a statement if they observed an accident or a crime, it discourages helping behaviors if the criminal justice system can force voluntary rescuers to repeatedly testify in person in court, especially when it requires a great deal of uncompensated travel. Perhaps most critical is the need to protect the responder from being arrested and charged by the criminal justice system based only on the fact that the responder assisted the victim. I am writing today’s blog for health care professionals that may be curious as to whether they are protected from civil liability while off duty, and while rendering aid to a person during some type of medical emergency. Typically, Good Samaritan laws do this by protecting the person who responds from legal consequences if there is a negative outcome despite the responder’s best efforts. This is especially true in those areas where definitive medical care is hard to find. Jurisdictions in which only volunteers are immune may deter paid and possibly better-trained EMS. Each potentially protected group offers something different to the victim of an accident or serious illness. I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up: Slips, Trips, and Fall Claims in Florida, Injured in an Accident? Whether you are a heavy equipment operator with no medical training, an off-duty Paramedic stopping at an automobile accident with injuries, or a Registered Nurse running over to assist a neighbor with stroke symptoms, the GSA will presumably protect you from a civil suit when the following occur: Again, there is far more to this statute, and I am confining this to address only the situation of rendering aid while off-duty, and outside of a hospital setting. The law in Nova Scotia is similar and includes protection for those who donate or distribute food in an emergency, as long as the donor or distributer believed the food to be fit for human consumption at the time of donation or distribution.14. Some of these state laws are single, standalone Good Samaritan laws, where all types of medical professionals as well as bystanders are given protection for a range of good faith rescue and assistance behaviors. Common examples might include someone who is experiencing chest pains or fell and hit their head on the sidewalk. E.g., Ind Code Ann § 34-30-12-1 (b) “a person who comes upon the scene of an emergency or accident…and in good faith, gratuitously renders emergency care at the scene of the emergency or accident is immune from civil liability for any personal injury that results from…any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured person; except for acts or omissions amounting to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.” See also Del Code Ann tit. Dublin: Law Reform Commission. When Will The Good Samaritan Act Protect an Off-Duty First Responder? Negligence comprises those actions that do not rise to the standard of reasonable behavior. The Rescuer Protection Law - similar to Good Samaritan laws that are in place in other countries - is aimed at boosting survival rates and encouraging the public to help in potentially life-threatening situations. Code Ann., Cts. Civil Liability Act 2002 Section 57. The legislature should amend the Good Samaritan Act, Fla Stat. In most countries where this protection is lacking, many people also know that they do not have any protection, resulting in potentially tragic consequences. “A good samaritan does not incur any personal civil liability in respect of an act or omission done or made by the good samaritan at the scene of an emergency in good faith and without recklessness in assisting a person in apparent need of emergency assistance.”, 13. Good Samaritan laws are generally thought of as pertaining only to medical assistance, but even then, it can be hard to distinguish where strictly medical assistance begins and ends. These laws generally do not apply to employees on duty (e.g., EMTs) or those with a pre-existing duty to provide care. This could complicate protection for a Good Samaritan if a victim is able to escape or move away from the scene of the emergency, yet still requires essential medical assistance. - Aggressive representation of auto accident victims in New Port Richey and the entire Tampa Bay Area since 1995. In addition, the law removes the presumption that a rescuer is liable for the injury, and places the burden of proof on the injured party who wants to sue a rescuer for the original injury.3 This law is still very new, and its effects are not yet known. Generally, this will require a broad range of activities and individuals to be protected. Civil Liability of Good Samaritans and Volunteers. 11. There are three commonly protected scenarios: sudden life or limb threatening emergencies such as accidents, falls, and natural disasters; illnesses not caused by an accident, or another external emergency situation, such as a heart attack; and transportation to a higher level of medical care after either an accident or sudden illness. Good Samaritan laws offer limited protection to someone who attempts to help a person in distress. My legal opinion is that while the Florida Legislature likely had the best of intentions, the statute is poorly written and needs to be amended to accomplish it’s purpose. There are two types of laws that are typically described as Good Samaritan laws: (1) laws which protect a voluntary responder when they provide assistance to an emergency victim in good faith and without any anticipation of a reward or compensation (primarily seen in the United States), and (2) laws that require anyone witnessing an emergency situation to assist the victim(s) in whatever way they are competent and able to do so, as long as it would not put them at risk as well (primarily seen in Europe and Australia). From the above analysis, it is possible to develop a model Good Samaritan Law to protect voluntary responders rendering aid in an emergency. The Good Samaritan Act – Does it Really Protect? This paper examines existing laws of this type, and provides recommendations for best practices in implementing effective responder protection laws that strike a balance between encouraging bystanders to provide rapid assistance to victims of emergencies and the need to leave adequate legal remedies to protect victims who are injured by an abusive or neglectful responder. In addition, a model law must still provide some legal recourse for those who are injured by those acting in bad faith or with gross negligence. Specifically, the following make the “immunity” afforded under the GSA a thin veil of protection: How Can the Good Samaritan Statute be Cured to offer the Immunity it was meant provide? Send us an email to share how you think Beacon can help your service. The care and treatment provided are during an emergency; The care and treatment is provided both gratuitously and in good faith; The person you are treating does not object, The GSA only offers immunity when the Good Samaritan acts as a “reasonably prudent person.” As any experienced trial attorney will tell you, that’s pretty much the level of care we owe to those around us at all times – immunity or no immunity. Last week, my buddy, Phil, brought in an emergency medical technician to our office.
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