Some states have Good Samaritan laws that shield people from liability when they try to assist someone who is in danger and in need of help. For example, if you see man collapse in the middle of a street and act quickly to get him out of traffic, but unintentionally break his arm in the process of saving him from being hit by a car, a Good Samaritan law would likely prevent you from being liable for breaking his arm.
Most states allow a victim to sue a Good Samaritan if the Good Samaritan acted negligently. For instance, if you dragged the collapsed man directly into a burning building, the law might not shield you from a lawsuit for the injuries the injured person sustained while being in the burning building because a reasonable person would not drag an injured man into a flaming building.
With the passage of Good Samaritan laws, states are trying to protect and encourage innocent bystanders to help those in emergencies when they are able to. You may not qualify as a Good Samaritan if you are required to assist someone in an emergency situation:
- If you did not cause the emergency and there is a great risk to your safety, most states say you do not have to assist.
- If you accidentally cause further injuries, the law can give you protection from lawsuits if you acted reasonably in light of the situation.
- If you caused the emergency, you must assist those injured.
An experienced personal injury attorney can assess your specific situation and your rights and duties. A personal injury lawyer also can advise you concerning the Good Samaritan law to avoid liability.