Good Samaritan Laws and Rendering Aid to Others

Most people are familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan contained in the Bible. The phrase “Good Samaritan” is often used to describe someone who goes out of his or her way to help another. Indeed, the largest recreational vehicle club in the country is called the “Good Sam Club” because of its ideal of members helping fellow travelers on America’s highways.  But, did you know that there are “Good Samaritan” laws?

While people have an obligation to refrain from acting in a way that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others, the law generally does not impose an affirmative duty to aid or protect others. However, in some cases, certain duties may exist which require a person to exercise reasonable care in helping another. For example, the law provides that there is a duty to render aid to an injured person when there is a “special relationship” between the parties, such as that between a social guest and host, an employer and employee, and business entity and patron. An example of exercising reasonable care to an injured person in these circumstances might be giving first aid, calling an ambulance, and looking after the person until medical help arrives. Even those under a duty to render aid are not required to provide all the medical treatment that could reasonably be foreseen might be needed by the injured or sick person, or to provide the sort of aid that requires special training to administer.

But what about when a total stranger stops to help an injured person, such as in the Biblical parable? These situations can arise when, say, you stop to help a car accident victim on the side of the road. In those cases, a car accident lawyer Memphis, TN residents rely on can help you navigate the waters. In general, “Good Samaritan” laws provide a measure of legal protection to people who help those who are injured or in danger, even if they are negligent while trying to help.   These laws usually state that anyone who, in good faith, renders emergency care to a person at a gathering open to the general public shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person except for damages that results from that person’s gross negligence. However, it is important to note that these laws are typically limited in application to persons who are not under some preexisting duty to render aid.

In these types of cases, the facts are important in determining whether there is a special duty to render aid, whether a duty was breached, or whether a “Good Samaritan” law might apply to protect someone who was trying to help but did so negligently.  That’s why it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer Memphis, TN  trusts who can help identify those key facts and steer your case in the direction of success from the beginning.

Thanks to our friends and contributors at Patterson Bray for their insight into personal injury.