Does It Pay To Be A Good Samaritan?
Imagine you’re driving down the street when you see a car on fire in a ditch. You pull over to see if anyone is in the car, and you see the driver slumped over and unconscious. You rush in and pull the driver from the burning car and drag him out of harm’s way. Thankfully, he’s safe from the burning car, but as you were dragging him away, his leg sustained a deep gash as it passed a sharp piece of twisted metal from the wreck.
Months later, you receive a personal injury claim saying that your negligence caused the gash that ended up severely infected and needed a surgical operation that led to the loss of a large area of skin. You might be a Good Samaritan for saving a life, but now you could be liable for several thousand dollars’ worth of medical bills.
Truth In A Story
This might be an exaggerated scenario, but it isn’t too far from cases that can occur. Many people might be hesitant to offer assistance in an emergency situation for fear that they can be held responsible if something happens in a case such as this. There have been instances when CPR resulted in a heart re-start, but also a broken rib. Or, cases when medical assistance was administered incorrectly and further injuries have occurred. Thankfully, there are Good Samaritan Laws that in place that offer protection and can help save a life.
Acting In Good Faith
Though laws exist in most states, they can vary. The Florida Good Samaritan Act says that if you are, in good faith, willingly providing emergency care in an emergency situation, you cannot be charged with negligence if you accidentally cause injury the party whom you were trying to help. This law means that more lives can be saved since it removes the fear of legal repercussions later on. If there is an emergency situation, people who have the ability to help will not hesitate to give aid.
The Good Samaritan Act also covers the 911 Good Samaritan Act, which allows people to get help for a drug overdose without fearing risk of prosecution. A party who is in possession of drugs will be granted a limited immunity for being prosecuted for a simple drug possession when they seek medical attention for someone who is suffering from an overdose.
Three Exceptions To The Rule
There are, however, a few exceptions to the Good Samaritan Act in Florida.
- When you choose to administer care to an injured party, you have a duty to exercise due care. If the assistance you provide is considered reckless, negligent, or excessive, you may not be safe under the act.
- If the person administering the assistance is relied upon by the injured party to receive assistance in the first place, they may not be covered. This pertains in a situation where the primary care physician, for example, causes additional damage while trying to treat their patient.
- If the person administering help was a medical professional who should have known that the assistance would create an unreasonable risk to the injured party.
Currently, Florida law does not require that anyone render aid to another party in distress. If you don’t feel comfortable giving aid, or if you believe that your assistance would cause more harm, call 911 and wait for the professionals to arrive.