What if I’m Injured by a Good Samaritan?
Good Samaritans are usually the stuff that fuels stories of heroes. These are the ordinary citizens or the off-duty doctors and nurses who spring to the aid of someone who has been injured. They often save lives with their quick thinking and help end emergencies with better outcomes than might otherwise have occurred. Anyone can try to become a Good Samaritan, whether they have medical training or not, and Florida Statutes section 768.13 – the Good Samaritan Act – seems to offer them a certain amount of protection from civil liability for their actions… at least, when all goes well.
But what if you’ve been injured in a traffic accident or other accident and the would-be Good Samaritan who comes to your rescue actually makes things worse? What if you would have been better off if he’d left you alone? What if she was so incompetent, it seemed like she was actively trying to hurt you? What if he was trying his best, but his negligence caused you serious injury?
Whether you’ve been involved in a Good Samaritan situation as the injured victim or whether you wonder if it’s a good idea to become a Good Samaritan yourself someday, it can be helpful to keep the following points in mind:
A Good Samaritan is only protected if he provides medical care, treatment, or advice in an actual emergency situation. If there is no emergency, there is no Good Samaritan protection. Keep in mind, however, that even emergencies do not provide blanket protection to someone who does harm under the guise of a Good Samaritan.
Good Samaritans provide their services for free and act in good faith. Someone who is trying to get something for herself by “helping” you won’t qualify, and someone who neglects to show proper care won’t be fully protected.
Consent of the Injured
An injured person can refuse the help of a Good Samaritan. If that injured person is able to make decisions on their own, the Good Samaritan cannot force the person to accept any medical treatment. If the injured person says to stop, the Good Samaritan likely will not be protected.
Ordinary Reasonably Prudent
Good Samaritans offering assistance have to act in the same way that an “ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.” The definition of how “ordinary reasonably prudent” people act in a given circumstance, however, can be hard to define for every situation. Not every action of a Good Samaritan is prudent, and many injuries caused by would-be Good Samaritans are actionable by the victims. Thus, this qualification must be examined on a case-by-case basis, with a full understanding of the law and legal precedents.
If you’ve been involved in an accident and you believe that the actions of a would-be Good Samaritan on the scene made your injuries worse, it is best to consult with a qualified attorney – both about your accident and about the possibly negative actions of your “rescuer.” At the Tampa, Florida law firm of Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we have been representing injured plaintiffs since 1967, and we have the experience to help you through all aspects of your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.