Imagine that you’re out running errands and you see someone in serious danger. Do you run over to try and help them? Would you be worried about the consequences if you do help?
Thankfully, there are ways to protect people who voluntarily help others in need. These rules fall under Good Samaritan Laws or Doctrines. The personal injury attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham have put together information about these laws both in Indiana and the U.S.
Who is a Good Samaritan?
A Good Samaritan is someone who helps an injured person in an emergency. To be considered a Good Samaritan, actions must be voluntary. They are generally not part of a job, such as a police officer or fireman. Actions shouldn’t be out of self-motivation, like receiving an award.
If the injured person is able to communicate, he can turn away help. Unlike conscious victims, unconscious victims can be helped on the grounds of implied consent.
Aid must be given on the scene. A person helping the victim can’t be the one responsible for the injury. some states, individuals are not obligated to do first aid unless it’s in a job description. Some states will require onlookers to at least contact help.
What Does the Good Samaritan Law Do?
These laws are designed to protect volunteers who help others in order to encourage emergency assistance from bystanders. The laws remove the threat of liability from a situation. They provide legal protection in the event that unintended consequences arise from reasonable interference.
What Are Indiana’s Good Samaritan Laws?
In Indiana, any person who comes across an emergency can provide aid in good faith. That person will be immune from a lawsuit.
This immunity covers any acts or omissions that happen in the course of offering help. It doesn’t cover any negligent behavior. This includes situations where automatic external defibrillators are used in emergencies.
Indiana’s laws also focus on protecting healthcare providers and emergency personnel. While services from a healthcare provider don’t fall under this category, ambulance attendants and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) are protected. The only time these individuals are not protected is when treatment is considered negligent. Ambulance drivers are not offered protection in Indiana
Are Good Samaritans Immune to Every Lawsuit?
Good Samaritan Laws are state laws, meaning that Good Samaritans aren’t immune to federal lawsuits.
If an interference is extremely negligent, causing more harm, the “Good Samaritan” can be sued. Some variations of the Good Samaritan Law can hold people liable for not taking appropriate action—even if it’s a phone call.
Good Samaritan Laws also don’t apply to someone who is giving emergency assistance as part of their job, as is the case with healthcare providers and their patients.
Can Doctors Be Good Samaritans?
If a doctor is off-duty and runs across an emergency, he is often protected under Good Samaritan Laws. He would lose protection if the person they treat is a current patient. Even when off-duty, doctors are held to professional standards given certain situations.