Do you ever take a moment to figure out if you’ll get in trouble for good deeds? What if you stopped to help with the victims of a car accident or someone who has a heart attack at a football game.
Good Samaritan laws exist to help bystanders stand in to help other people. The protections for this though do vary based on each state.
Why do they Exist?
They exist because they offer voluntary protection. This is where you’re protected from some claims and lawsuits, so that the average person can help those who are injured, to help win emergencies before the first responders arrive.
Good Samaritan laws may also protect first responders too, and medical professionals, especially with any liability that comes from medical care later on. So if you’re a doctor out there and you assist someone, you’re protected by the good Samaritan laws.
One example might be stepping in to help a child who is choking by performing the Heimlich with the permission of the parent of course.
However, while this quick-thinking does save lives, there is the fact that it can break the child’s ribs and potentially cause damage to the organs.
However, the person who saved the kid’s life will be protected from lawsuits that come from this. But remember, these are “reasonable” conditions.
This means of course that the good Samaritan laws don’t’ protect you from suit if you’re acting negligent. There is a chance that providing assistance may make you liable to damages.
Are You Obligated to Help?
These laws do vary between each state. In Hawaii, the laws do protect emergency responders and healthcare professionals, along with regular people.
However, in other states, it might not protect those who are volunteers or regular people, and only rescue personnel. But remember that you’re not legally obligated to help. However, the laws do offer protection from liability for the people who do help others.
There are exceptions though. Alabama for example, does limit the good Samaritan laws to those who rescue people including public education people. This is only an exception of course when there is a person suffering a heart attack.
In Oklahoma, it’s similar, but for controlling the bleeding and giving CPR to someone.
Then of course in some states they will only protect those who help at the state level, so if this is taken to federal court, then the person will not be protected in this case.
Then in some states there are “failure to act” laws. These are laws where there is legal duty placed in passersby to help. This can actually carry charges, to the point of a petty misdemeanor and a max fine of $300 from this as well.
Figure Out Your Local Laws
If you’re not sure whether you should go and step in to help someone, then you should look into the local laws that are there. Educating yourself on these laws is important, especially if you’re unsure of what this may require as well.
Educating yourself on this can help you determine if you are liable if you choose to step in to help. There is a lot that can happen when you’re helping a random stranger. The best thing for you to do at this point is of course, take some time to better educate yourself, and to help you figure out as well what you need to accomplish in order to get to that point too, and of course what you can do to help these innocent bystanders when they are injured.