Sometimes, it is in the most sudden moments of disaster that we show our greatest compassion for one another. And while stories of cruelty are the anthem of the evening news, even these are often coupled with tales of altruistic courage. It seems that though we are relentlessly surrounded by heartbreak, the inherent goodness of people everywhere still prevails. This is why the California Good Samaritan law aims to protect those who lend a helping hand in times of need.
What does this law entail?
It is important to understand the details of the Good Samaritan law in California for the instance that you are met with disaster. This law states that anyone who voluntarily provides help in an emergency to an injured or endangered person, can not be held liable for civil damages. In an effort to encourage people to help others in their greatest times of need, this law protects the good-doers at the scene of an accident.
Why is this important?
Prior to 2009, California’s Good Samaritan Law protected only those who volunteered medical care. This proved problematic in the case of Alexandra Van Horn v. Lisa Torti in 2004. When Torti pulled Van Horn from her crashed car, anticipating that it would combust, Van Horn suffered even greater injury, rendering her paraplegic. Following the incident, Van Horn sued Torti for causing her incurred injuries. Though the defendant was, in good faith, aiming to help the victim, she was not protected under the Good Samaritan Law in California at that time.
This example seemed problematic for lawmakers. So in 2009 under Assembly Bill B3, the Good Samaritan law was changed to include coverage for those who offered non-medical assistance as well. This decision aims to encourage the good deeds of the witnesses of an emergency. Rather than worrying if they will be sued, people are free to help in any way they are able. With the exception of cases of gross negligence and wanton misconduct, good samaritans are now wholly protected in California.
We encourage your will to help others in times of need. If you are involved in or witness an incident in which someone is injured, do what you can to help. The intent to care for those suffering can go a long way. You may even save a life. And if you have any questions regarding the Good Samaritan law, please do not hesitate to contact us at Raynes and Erickson for expert legal assistance and counsel.