Do "Good Samaritans" Still Get Sued?

Suppose you are driving down a highway…and you see a car crash on the side of the road…you pull over, and find a woman trapped inside the car…which is beginning to burn!
At great risk to yourself, you extract the injured woman from the car, and make he comfortable…then,you call the police/EMTs on your cellphone.
You return to your vehicle, and go on your way. Next week, you receive a registered letter from a law office…opening it, you find that you are named a defendent in a lawsuit. The woman you selflessly aided is sueing you from persoanl distress, as your “reckless” handling of her while saving her from the burning wreck, resulted in her losing the use of her little finger of the right hand.
Is this scenario possible today? I know that medical doctors are protected (in many states) against unreasonable lawsuits…but waht about ordinary folk? :eek:

Come live down here.

We can’t sue for anything (well almost anything). We have the Accident Compensation Corperation to take care of us. :smiley:

Hell I’m a lefty-socialist type but we can’t even sue for medical misadventure…though ACC will give you 10 grand if you can prove it.

Most states have laws which protect Good Samaritans. IANAL, but I think that as long as your actions were reasonable and prudent, you aren’t liable for any incidental injuries the woman might sustain.

I seem to recall the AMA offering a prize to anyone who could identify a real-life doctor sued under a Good Samaritan scenario. There were no takers.

IANAL also, but I understand most American states protect people doing their best.

What do KIWI lawyers/barristers do? Without medical malpractice, slip and fall accident work, etc., doessn’t seem that there’s enough resources to support a Bar association!

Oh, I dunno… represent accused people? Seek redress for violations of rights? Sue persons and companies who did actual harm through actual wrongful action?

And besides calm kiwi referred only to the case of Auto coverage. Sort of like ACAA down here in our home town.
As mentioned, the level fo “good samaritan” protection under the Law is dependent on your jurisdiction – if under the US flag, that means it’s dependent on which of the 56 states or territories you’re in or if you’re in a Federal-jurisdiction circumstance. Usually the way to protect yourself in such cases is to stick around so that the responding authorities can attest that you acted to avoid a greater danger and that you did not attempt anything that was beyond your competence to attempt (i.e. no roadside amateur surgery).

Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer in any sense of the word, if this is hanging on something important don’t take my word for it, this is not brand spanking current, etc.

Last year in Virginia Health class, we were told that if you were (1) unpaid for health services, and (2) genuinely tried to help (as opposed to harming the person intentionally), you were fine legally.

Again, this is not current, my memory could be faulty, and it’s probably more complex than that, but as far as I know, that’s the deal.

I’ve always wondered if Attorney James Sokolove (whose ads are constantly on television and whose law offices are infamous for medical malpractice, malfeasance, etc) needed emrgency medical treatment OR was bleeding to death OR choking to death, and so on, would people think twice even thrice before rescuing him?

If it was witihin my medical knowledge, personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to save anyone . (but that Sokolve guy may have to wait a while LOL).

Here in the US, you can sue anyone for any reason at any time. The chances of winning or losing, or even of having the case thrown out the first time a judge sees it, depend upon the exact specifics. I mean, someone today cited a Supreme Court decision against approximately 95 barrels of alleged apple cider vinegar.

This, from the ‘Brady Emergency Care’ book, 7th edition:

Good Samaritan Laws

Good samaritan laws have been developed in most states to provide immunity to individuals trying to help people in emergencies. Most of these laws will grant immunity from liability if the rescuer acts in good faith to provide care to the level of his training, to the best of his ability. These laws do not prevent someone from initiating a lawsuit, nor will they protect the rescuer from being found libel for acts of gross negligence and other violations of the law.

As mentioned in ltfire’s quote, you are only protected by the Good Samaritan Laws up to your level of training. For example, if you are not an MD or one of the EMTs that can give drugs, you’d better not administer drugs. If you do, the GS laws won’t protect you.

IAAL, and when you walk into my office with your good samaritan gone bad story, I will be happy to bring on the motion to dismiss that the “good samaritan” laws provide you as an element of relief from the ungrateful sob who is suing you for failing to ease up on that tourniquet.

And, following thirty or so billable hours devoted to assembling the affidavits and depositions to underlie the motion, and the full day of court time involved in arguing it, I will be delighted to inform yuou that you are…

and with a princely air of condescension I will return to you the remainder of your fifty thousand retainer (you remember, you gave it to me that first day…).

Namely, five dollars and twenty two cents…oops, sorry. Forgot that the postage on that last bill was actually 38 cents, not 37, , so that will be five dollars and 21 cents.

It’s been a pleasure vindicating your rights to be a good samaritan .

Brother Sokolove is one step ahed of you–he carries a “throw-down” wallet, identifying him as a fork-lift driver for home depot. Sokolove knows the score…

Its all about what a reasonable person would do.
So basicly, if your at a crash and trying to help, don’t try some voodoo magic that’s practiced by your obscure religion.

But pouring water and doing reasonable stuff like that would never get you sued.
And if it did, dont worry, the media would come to your aid, the front page of every newspaper would read “Sued for being decent”, and you’d probably get a great sum of money doing an interview for the ABC :smiley:

alaricthegoth — LOL !!!

So should we all carry legally-approved waivers of liability in our cars? That way, when you stop to save an accident victim,you can have him/her sign away their rights to sue you (for being negligent in some aspect of saving their lives)!
I like the idea about Jim Sokolove…if I saw him drowning, I’d have a long conversation with him, and make sure he agreed not to sue me (before I threw him a rope).

Nope, not just Auto coverage. There are no personal injury or medical malpractice suits in New Zealand. Workplace and public Health and Safety violations are prosecuted by the Dept of Labour/Occupational Safety and Health, treatment for sporting injuries (and earnings compensation) are covered by ACC, also medical misadventure/malpractice. Abuse victims are also able to make a case for compensation. You get ACC cover for shear stupidity, too (and injuries sustained while committing a criminal act).

ACC are also responsible for longterm rehabilitation etc. NZ has a welfare state, with an accessible public heath system that generally works.

Laywers are actually well regarded in NZ society, as they have to earn a living doing useful things (divorce, house conveyencing, contracts, tax law, criminal law etc). The courts are not clogged with personal injury suits, and get get on with the business of Justice.


Does the original accident victim have any responsibility?

The set-up:

Big strong man who can’t swim well is driving and a deer jumps out and smashes into his car making it go into the pond beside the road. He is splashing and about to drown.

People pull up and stand around worrying…

Man jumps in to try to save him.

Big guy climbs up on him and holds him under while others throw a rope that was found. They pull the big guy out. the man who jumped in has since drowned.

Wife of drowned man is likely to recover in court in your state / country how much?

Second set-up:
Big strong man who can’t swim well is driving and a deer jumps out and smashes into his car making it go into the pond beside the road. He is splashing and about to drown.

People pull up and stand around worrying…

Man jumps in to try to save him.

Big guy climbs up on him and holds him under so guy attempt rescue breaks his arm to prevent his climbing on him.

How much will the drowning man recover from the good Samaritan in the courts for ‘over reaction’ or ‘whatever’ because the big guy asserts that he was about to calm down – in your state / country?

Yeah, but would you throw him the whole rope, or would you hold on to one end?

Not to hijack (chough cough) but whence this hostility to a lawyer advertising?

Let’s be frank:the first ox gored is the lawyers’. Advertising was vigorouslyi fought by virtuially every “guild” (not the natl lawyers guild, I mean the local price fixing guild.)

The net effect of advertising is:

lawyers prices were subject to some transparency

people who had uinvindicated claims that were expiring due to the running of the statute of limitations stumbled into offices and had them evaluated.