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7 Things Covered Under the Good Samaritan Law in California

7 Things Covered Under the Good Samaritan Law in California

Car crashes, falls, and other medical emergencies can unexpectedly transpire in front of you. While the first thing you should always do is contact first responders, you sometimes act on the instinct to provide immediate aid to save lives. However, what if you accidentally injure the victims while helping, and they sue you for it?

Luckily, the Good Samaritan law protects those who assist others in need, so you can help without worrying about the legal consequences of your actions. This article discusses the Californian Good Samaritan law’s definition and its statutes to help you understand it better.

What is the Good Samaritan Law?

The Good Samaritan law protects people from legal repercussions so that consequences won’t hinder them from lending aid when necessary. It empowers Californians to act decisively during critical moments and help build safer, more compassionate communities.

7 Types of Situations Covered under the Good Samaritan Law

Now that you understand what is the purpose of the Good Samaritan law, the next step is to be familiar with the specific situations it applies to.

1. Medical emergencies

Quick action is instrumental in saving lives during medical emergencies. Time is of the essence, so whether you offer basic first aid or assist with administering medications, you may freely step up while help is on the way.

2. Accidents and injuries

Car accidents, head injuries, and other traumatic events fall within the law’s purview. It protects you as you render aid, such as moving victims out of harm’s way or providing care until professional help arrives. While moving injured individuals in an accident is not recommended, removing immediate hazardous factors from the victim can help.

3. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

CPR plays a critical role during cardiac arrests, so you’re safe from consequent injuries if you administer it in good faith. In turn, victims can have higher chances of survival while waiting for medical assistance. Equipping yourself with the proper training to do CPR can surely save a lot of lives.

4. Drug overdoses

If you encounter someone experiencing a drug overdose, the Good Samaritan law allows you to administer naloxone and other overdose-reversal medications. You can also freely perform other life-saving measures like CPR or placing the victim in the recovery position.

5. Psychiatric emergencies

Emergencies aren’t limited to personal injuries. If someone is having a panic attack or harming themselves, the law protects your efforts to calm them down, provide emotional support, and help them connect with mental health resources.

6. Childbirth

Childbirth in public is an unfortunate yet typical occurrence, especially among the homeless population in California. If you encounter such incidents, you can safely assist with delivery or guide the mother until professional medical help arrives.

7. Automated external defibrillator (AED) use

In situations where an AED is available, the Good Samaritan law empowers you to use it to administer life-saving electrical therapy to victims suffering from cardiac arrest. 

The Good Samaritan law in California protects people who help others during emergencies from legal consequences in case of unintentional errors that might occur while providing aid. 

However, this protection has limitations. It only covers aid you perform in good faith. It also doesn’t include complications from your gross negligence or willful misconduct. Finally, the accident should occur outside of emergency departments and far from places where medical care is available.

That said, the law effectively removes barriers deterring bystanders from taking prompt and decisive action during emergencies. It empowers everyone to help one another in critical situations, improving emergency outcomes in California.

Requirements for Good Samaritan Protection

Fulfilling the following conditions lets you benefit from the protections of the Good Samaritan law.

1. Reasonable and necessary assistance

The aid you provide must be reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if the victim has a stable heart rate and is breathing normally, CPR is unnecessary. The damage you cause by performing it, even if there’s no imminent danger, makes you vulnerable to lawsuits.

2. Acting in good faith

You must provide aid without any malicious or self-serving motivations. Administering overdose-reversal medication to someone experiencing a drug overdose counts as an act in good faith, provided that you didn’t ask for anything in return.

3. No expectation of compensation or reward

Likewise, you mustn’t expect any form of payment for your actions. If you sought compensation before or after saving a person’s life, the Good Samaritan law wouldn’t apply to you. The victim may freely sue you for any damage you cause.

3 Instances Where the Good Samaritan Law Doesn’t Apply

While the Good Samaritan law provides valuable protection for Californians, it doesn’t generally apply in the following instances.

1. Gross negligence or willful misconduct

The law doesn’t shield you from legal consequences if your behavior toward the victim intentionally disregards their safety and well-being. A typical example is when you administer emergency medication without prior training, resulting in additional injuries or overdose.

2. Assisting while under the influence

Your case might also fall outside the law if you rendered aid while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your actions could further harm or worsen the victim’s condition, so you must be fit to provide effective and safe assistance. It’s best to wait for help if you are also under the influence and might not offer the best care.

3. Exceptions and limitations to the law

To reiterate the previous points, providing unreasonable assistance, failing to act in good faith, expecting compensation for your help, and operating with willful misconduct disqualify you from the Good Samaritan law.

Protect Your Good Deeds with RMD Law

The Good Samaritan law in California is a vital legal framework encouraging people to offer timely and compassionate assistance during emergencies. By providing reasonable protection from civil liability,  subject to specific terms and limitations, the law helps form a state where the fear of legal consequences doesn’t hinder your human instinct to aid those in need.

Did you act as a good Samaritan in an emergency and need an attorney to help protect you from an incoming lawsuit? RMD Law Personal Injury Attorneys has a team of expert personal injury lawyers ready for the tireless representation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Aria Miran
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