TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good Samaritan Laws

I took a CPR course yesterday and was surprised to learn of the scope of many "Good Samaritan" laws (statutes passed to give some form of legal protection to emergency rescuers).  I have always considered them solely in the context of rescuers who are professionals in the medical field (physicians, nurses, paramedics, EMT's, etc.).  Apparently, many jurisdictions have laws that apply to laypeople, so long as they are "certified."  The Red Cross booklet we used (First Aid/CPR/AED for the Workplace) provides:

All 50 states have enacted Good Samaritan laws that give legal protection to people who willingly give emergency care to an ill or injured person without accepting anything in return.  These laws, which differ from state to state, usually protect citizens who act the same way that a "reasonable and prudent person" would if that person were in the same situation.

Developed to encourage people to help, these laws require the "Good Samaritan" to 1. Act in good faith, 2. Not be deliberately negligent or reckless, 3. Act within the scope of his or her training, 4. Not abandon the person after starting to give care.

In addition to the coverage issue, the phrasing is interesting.  In theory, tort law without a "Good Samaritan" statute should protect people who act as "a reasonable and prudent person."   


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