Good Samaritan Laws

Definition - What does Good Samaritan Laws mean?

Good Samaritan laws are laws that protect "Good Samaritans" (people who come to the aid of others during emergencies) from liability or negligence lawsuits filed by the victims.

In order to be protected by Good Samaritan laws, the Good Samaritan must be reasonably careful, must provide the care at the scene of the emergency, and they must not provide care for monetary reasons.

Justipedia explains Good Samaritan Laws

Lawsuits can arise against people who help others during emergencies if the injured or at-risk people are harmed by the Good Samaritans who are trying to help. For example, a person may attempt to pull another person from a burning car, but may accidentally hurt the person in the process. However, as long as the helping person adhered to the terms of Good Samaritan laws, they would be protected against lawsuits from the emergency victims.

The way in which the Good Samaritan laws are used changes from one state to the next. In some states, it is necessary for the person committing the Good Samaritan act to have health or medical training in order to intervene, or work in some aspect of law enforcement. In certain states such as Alabama, if a person intervenes in an incident or situation that they do not have any reason to believe that they could actually help with, then they could be held liable if anything happened to the person that they were trying to help through their actions. In other states, it is open for any person to step in, and try to help if they can, regardless of past training.

There are only two definitive clauses within the Good Samaritan laws that are the same across every state: the first is that the Good Samaritan must not have accepted any financial compensation for the act, and the second is that the Good Samaritan must not act in negligence.

In most states, the need for consent to be gained from the victim is necessary, otherwise the actions of the Good Samaritan can be looked upon as assault or battery. If the person needing help is a minor, then consent would need to be taken from a parent or guardian. In certain countries, such as Finland, citizens are required to do what they can to help in any situation that would command it, so it is like a forced Good Samaritan law. If the victim happens to be unconscious or drunk, then they can be considered to have given implied consent.

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