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What Are Good Samaritan Laws?

Posted On 12/26/18

Many states have adopted “Good Samaritan” laws. In an effort to reduce the number of accidental drug overdose deaths and encourage average citizens to offer assistance to others in need in times of crisis, Good Samaritan laws were born.

Prior to the enactment of Good Samaritan laws, some individuals hesitated to call for help when a friend or relative suffered a drug overdose for fear of receiving drug-related criminal charges. In other cases, people who received life-saving assistance from strangers in times of need actually decided to pursue legal claims against those individuals for perceived damages. It is important for all Arizona residents to know how Good Samaritan laws work.

Good Samaritan Laws and Drug Users

A “Good Samaritan” refers to an individual who helps another person in need voluntarily without expectation of a reward. When a person starts showing signs of an overdose, someone nearby may hesitate to call an ambulance for fear of arrest. Good Samaritan laws effectively provide immunity to individuals in these situations. The laws encourage bystanders to take life-saving action without fear of legal repercussions.

The drug Naloxone can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose when administered quickly. Many states have increased the availability of this life-saving injectable medication in first responder vehicles and law enforcement offices. Naloxone is much more accessible now in response to the continuing opioid crisis. Anyone who suspects another person nearby is suffering from an opioid overdose should not hesitate to call for help.

Good Samaritan Laws for Helping During Accidents and Emergencies

Not every state upholds Good Samaritan laws. However, some states do require citizens to offer assistance to others in need if it is safe to do so.

Imagine walking down the street and seeing another person suddenly collapse. A passerby stops to offer assistance and notices the person who collapsed is not breathing. The passerby knows how to perform CPR and successfully revives the victim, but cracks two of his or her ribs in the process. The victim could try to take legal action against the helper for the cracked ribs. This being said, the Good Samaritan laws would likely insulate the helper from civil liability. Since the helper acted in good faith and cracked ribs are a very common side effect of CPR, a judge would likely consider this reasonable aid.

Protection for Healthcare Providers

Healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses often find themselves in situations that demand immediate action to save another person’s life. If a victim or patient is unresponsive, there is no way for an attending healthcare professional to ask for consent to perform life-saving treatment.

It is important to remember that Good Samaritan laws do not shield individuals from civil or criminal liability if they commit gross negligence or any other type of misconduct in the course of rendering aid. Additionally, Good Samaritan laws do not apply to individuals who act with an expectation of reward. To qualify for Good Samaritan protection, the individual must meet several criteria, including he or she must have:

  • Acted at the scene of the incident in question.
  • Taken action purely out of desire to help another person in need.
  • Acted in good faith without expectation of reward.
  • Acted in a reasonable manner to render aid to someone who needed help.

Anyone who acted in good faith to help another person and then meets with legal issues from the person he or she helped should speak with a Phoenix personal injury attorney as soon as possible. There are many issues that can complicate any type of Good Samaritan case, and an attorney can help these individuals prove their intentions and genuine desire to help.