When an emergency happens such as a car accident, a Good Samaritan is a person who tries to help rather than looking the other way. They attempt to offer emergency or non-emergency care in an effort to help an injured person, and they don’t expect to be compensated for doing so. Good Samaritan Laws are intended to protect those who make an honest effort to be of assistance when help is needed in an emergency from being held liable if their actions end up doing more harm than good.
All 50 states have some type of law that aims to protect good Samaritans, and California is no exception. Without laws to protect people from trying to help when a sudden emergency occurs, those who might offer a helping hand would have to think twice about doing so if it meant they might be sued for their actions. In many emergencies, a delay can mean the difference between life and death. Good Samaritan Laws are intended to encourage people to help each other in emergency situations, but also to act responsibly whenever doing so.
Good Samaritan Law in California
In the state of California, the Good Samaritan Law falls under California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102. This law states that when a person renders emergency care and acts in good faith without expecting compensation, they won’t be held liable for their acts or omissions.
The exception would be that they could be held liable if their acts demonstrate gross negligence or wanton misconduct. For example, the Good Samaritan could be found negligent if their actions created the danger or medical emergency in the first place, or if they start trying to help and then abandoned the victim.
Before 2009, this law only protected individuals who specifically offered emergency medical care at the scene of an emergency. The law has been amended since then to protect people who offer assistance in both medical and non-medical scenarios. Examples of non-medical scenarios include helping someone out of a vehicle or out of oncoming traffic.
Why Good Samaritan Laws Are Needed
Whenever someone is injured in an emergency, it’s possible that the amount of time it takes for trained medical personnel to arrive at the scene could be longer than expected. In some situations, the victim’s only hope of survival depends on the assistance of a person who happens to be at or near the scene of the accident.
Establishing Good Samaritan Laws is a way of protecting people who have good intentions and make an honest effort to help others. In California, the Good Samaritan law serves important purposes including:
- It gives bystanders the opportunity to reach out to help others in need, which can be the difference between life and death in some circumstances
- It protects those who try to help from being punished for attempting to do the right thing in the middle of a stressful situation
- It may prevent people from being reluctant to get involved when help is needed
Do You Need Legal Advice About the Good Samaritan Law in California?
If you have questions about the Good Samaritan Law here in California, Megeredchian Law wants to help. Whether you’re being sued for intending to help an injured motorist at the scene of an accident, or you feel your accident-related injuries were made worse by the actions of someone else who behaved irresponsibly, get in touch with us by filling out the form on this page. We’ll contact you to set up a free consultation to discuss what happened and can clarify your rights and discuss how the Good Samaritan Law applies to your situation.