Understanding Bystander Liability And Good Samaritan Laws
If you were at risk, or needed immediate help, you would like to believe that others would come rushing to your aid. But would they be…and if they weren’t, and they didn’t help or save you, could you sue?
No Bystander Liability
There is actually no law that requires that anybody come to anybody else’s aid; you cannot sue someone for not helping or assisting you at the scene of an accident. Aside from the moral and ethical issues, if someone wants to stand there while you are in desperate aid, they can do that.
There are limited exceptions for emergency rescue personnel, or for anybody who may have a special duty to come to someone’s aid, like police or firefighters, or someone who works at a nursing home helping residents, or daycare workers helping kids.
Some have stated that the failure to come to someone’s aid, should be punished as a crime. But we are a long way from that happening, and any law to that effect would probably meet with some pushback.
Of course, just because someone doesn’t have to legally render aid to someone else in need at the scene of an accident, doesn’t mean they can’t if they don’t want to. Many people do want to help people in need—they’re just afraid that if they do something wrong, or if they cause someone injury while rendering aid, that they will get sued.
Good Samaritan Laws
The good news for people rendering aid is that Florida’s good Samaritan law will protect them, as the law makes anybody who in good faith renders aid to someone else at the scene of an emergency, safe from ever being sued.
The law extends to trained medical professionals, who also cannot be sued for malpractice, if they render aid to someone in an emergency situation.
Bystanders must act in a way that is reasonable. So, it would be reasonable for a bystander to move someone out of an area of danger, perform CPR, or try to tourniquet a bleeding wound. It may not be reasonable for an untrained casual bystander to decide to open someone up in the street and perform emergency surgery on the victim.
Victims must consent to the aid in the event a victim is able to. If the victim asks that you not do something to help, you must abide by their wishes. However, this does not apply in situations where the victim is not conscious or in a position to give or prohibit consent.
Helping Animals in Accidents
Good Samaritan laws apply to animals as well. Anybody (whether or not you are a veterinarian) that renders aid to an animal that was injured in an accident, is likewise immune from damages or injuries that may result from the rendering of the aid to the animal.
Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for a free analysis of your case if you are injured during an accident, or to see who may be liable for causing your injuries.