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The Good Samaritan Act

Get involved: We need to be a Nation of By-Doers, not By-Standers. Lives are saved by intervention of friends, neighbors, and strangers before EMS arrives every day.

Scales_of_JusticeFear of retribution: Unfortunately, in this day of litigiousness, many people fear repercussions from getting involved. Isn't that sad? Wouldn't you rather have someone try to save your life than stand by for fear of you our your family suing them afterward?

Gotcha covered: The good news is that in almost every state of the union, the law has your back. While some lawyers and individuals may unscrupulously pursue any avenue to chase a buck, lawmakers understand that life supersedes all other concerns.

While the actual statutes vary, the "essence" of Good Samaritan Legislature in most jurisdictions is that a Bystander, acting in good faith, attempting to perform first aid, cpr, or rescue using an AED cannot be held civilly liable for unintentional harm caused to a victim while attempting to resuscitate or otherwise perform lifesaving aid.

So what are the "ground rules"?

Nearly Universally, these principles apply:

  1. You must act in good faith.
  2. You are neither reckless nor negligent.
  3. Act as a prudent person would.
  4. Only provide care that is within the scope of your training.
  5. You must not abandon the victim once you have begun care.
  6. You must not accept anything in return for your services.

What else?

Prior to providing care for a Conscious Adult, you must first obtain consent. This is a very simple procedure and requires only a few seconds. The steps are as follows:

  1. Tell the victim your name.
  2. Tell them you have been trained to assist in First Aid and/or CPR
  3. Ask the person if he/she wants help.
  4. Once they indicate that they want your help, begin care.

*If the victim is a minor, you may obtain consent from the minor’s legal guardian or parent if they are present on the scene. If the minor’s legal guardian or parent is not present, consider it a situation of Implied Consent.

What is Implied Consent?

If the victim is seriously ill, extremely confused, or unconscious, he or she may not be able to give consent. The law then assumes that the victims would most likely give consent if they could, so assistance may be given without verbal permission.

Duty to Act...

What are we talking about here? Moral or Legal? This is the humdinger...  Depending on the specific State Law, most licensed and/or certified professionals, medical personnel, public safety officers and medically trained government employees have a “duty to act” while they are working or on assignment. If responding to an emergency while not on duty, the same person would be protected as a bystander choosing to provide care under the Good Samaritan Laws. This area of concern has been in the media a lot lately - especially regarding senior care and "do not resuscitate" orders.

Curious Notes:

  • Rhode Island specifically applies their Good Sam to anaphylactic shock care, too.
  • Utah excludes liability for failure to obtain consent
  • Texas has one of the most simple and broad Good Sam Coverage Statutes: Persons not licensed or certified in the healing arts who in good faith administer emergency care as emergency medical service personnel are not liable in civil damages for an act performed in administering the care unless the act is wilfully or wantonly negligent. This section applies without regard to whether the care is provided for or in expectation of remuneration.

Want to learn more? Want to know about your State? Read this excellent article: Good Samaritan Laws by state - provided by Recreation Law

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