HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good Sam in California

California may be suffering from a terrible financial crisis but Governor Schwartzenner has found time to sign legislation that raises the standard for lawsuits against non-professional medical individuals who aid others in emergency situations. reports

One piece of compromise legislation, Assembly Bill 83, protects people who are not in the medical profession from being sued after they help someone at the scene of an accident, unless their actions rise to the level of gross negligence or recklessness. The "Good Samaritan" bill was introduced after the California Supreme Court ruled, in Van Horn v. Watson, No. S152360 (Cal. 2008), that only trained emergency medical responders were immune from liability under the state's Health and Safety Code. In that case, a woman who was rendered a paraplegic by an automobile accident sued the friend who had pulled her out of the car.

The bill was supported both by the Consumer Attorneys of California and the Civil Justice Association of California, a tort reform group. Christine Spagnoli, president of the consumer attorneys and a partner at Greene, Broillet & Wheeler in Santa Monica, Calif., said that the legislation broadens the number of people who are protected from liability.

"The bar has been set higher," she said. "People who do something and unintentionally cause additional harm aren't going to be faced with having to be potentially sued. It's really more for someone who is aware of the fact that what they're doing is not right and they're going to potentially cause harm and go ahead and do it anyway." . . . .

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