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Picture this: you’re at a roadside cafe enjoying your coffee when suddenly, a car runs the red light in front of the building, hits a person in the pedestrian walk, then speeds off. Coffee was forgotten, you jump to your feet and sprint to the scene to offer aid. This reaction seems like the obvious thing to do, despite the help not being requested or owed. You provided care voluntarily. While potentially life-saving, this act could have just exposed you to litigation. Fortunately, to protect people in these situations, lawmakers enacted the Good Samaritan Law.
A Good Samaritan is anyone who, in good faith, comes to the aid of an injured person and renders emergency care or assistance without expecting anything in return. Despite being a voluntary act, the Good Samaritan still owes the stranger the duty of being reasonably careful.
What is the Good Samaritan Act?
Different states have varying statutes and guidelines as well as exceptions and boundaries regarding the Good Samaritan Act. For instance, in Texas, the law protects individuals who volunteer to render help in good faith to those most in need. In particular, the Act states that if a bystander sincerely administers emergency care to an injured party (at the accident scene), they shall not bear liability for any damages resulting from the care administration.
Put otherwise, the Texas Good Samaritan Act bars an auto accident victim from filing a lawsuit for damages resulting from another person’s honest intentions of offering emergency care. Lawmakers passed the Act to encourage people to come to the rescue of others who are in dire need of emergency assistance.
Before that, many people were hesitant to offer help because they were afraid of getting sued by the victim should anything go wrong. Suppose a Good Samaritan lifted the victim from their damaged car and twisted a spine during the process. In that case, the injured party could sue the sincere helper for liability for damages if the twist resulted in a permanent disability. But that is no longer actionable, thanks to the Texas Good Samaritan Law. However, as we hinted earlier, the law has some limitations, boundaries, and exceptions.
Legal Exceptions for the Good Samaritan Law
If any of the following exceptions apply to your case as a Good Samaritan, you could still face legal liability for the victim’s damages or injuries. They include:
If a Good Samaritan renders emergency aid categorizing as gross negligence, the victim can still pursue a civil action against the helper. Lawmakers included this exception to ensure that people who volunteer to provide emergency aid do so reasonably, not to worsen the situation. Gross negligence would typically occur if the person trying to help greatly worsened an injury or created a new injury for the victim.
Compensated Medical Professionals
If a healthcare professional expects compensation for coming to the scene and providing specialized care, but the situation is not handled correctly, the accident victim can sue the nurse, first-aid technician, or doctor for negligent care.
Any individual at the emergency scene with the sole objective of soliciting business may be liable for the victim’s injuries or damages. These may include licensed medical personnel, insurance companies, or law firms. Furthermore, if a tow truck company causes additional damages to the victim’s car while towing it, they can get sued for it.
Other Good Samaritan exceptions apply to:
- Any individual (other than a healthcare professional) expecting to get compensated for rendering emergency aid.
- A licensed nurse, emergency response technician, or doctor who administers emergency health services regularly.
- An individual who is responsible for making the victim vulnerable to the harm incurred. For example, an at-fault driver offering to render emergency support to the injured victim.
Suppose you’re not sure whether the aid provider is liable for your injuries/damages or not. In that case, we highly recommend you discuss your case with a personal injury attorney for an in-depth deliberation.
More Legal Liability Protections of Texas Good Samaritan Act
The Act provides additional legal immunity to the following groups:
- Medical personnel who are neither licensed nor certified for healing arts but act in good faith to help during an emergency.
- A person who uses a portable automated external defibrillator to check the car accident victim’s heart rhythm. In this case, the person can give the victim an electric shock to restore a normal rhythm in life-threatening situations such as when the victim suffers cardiac arrest.
- Suppose the accident victim is in a near-drowning situation, and Good Samaritan volunteers to attempt saving their life using CPR. In that case, they can’t take legal action against the aid provider. That is, they can’t sue the volunteer acting in good faith even if the chest compressions resulted in broken ribs or deflated lung.
Key Takeaways About Texas Good Samaritan Law
- You are not legally obligated to assume the Good Samaritan role during an emergency. But if you volunteer to offer aid, you must practice the duty of care to avoid implicating yourself for potential liability.
- If you choose to provide support, it needs to be stabilization only.
- The auto accident victim should not object to getting assisted. And if the accident victim is not capable of giving the go-ahead, the standard is to move forward with implied consent.
- Medical personnel offering emergency aid may get exonerated for ordinary negligence, but not willful, gross, or wanton conduct.
- If you’re unsure whether your aid provider has legal immunity or bears legal liability for your damages, ensure you liaise with your injury attorney as soon as possible.
Determining if the Good Samaritan Law Impacts Your Case
There’s no denying that the Texas Good Samaritan Act can be challenging to navigate on your own, especially considering that it has confusing exceptions and statutes. The good news is that a personal injury attorney can help you understand everything and provide advice on how to navigate your situation. Whether you’re the Good Samaritan or the injured victim, you need a lawyer to explore your options.
Here at Thompson Law, we have a dedicated team of Attorneys who take their work seriously, having successfully recovered over $1.8 billion in settlements and victories. If you have sustained auto accident injuries or have been accused of injuring someone else, fill out our contact form or call us at 866-275-6370 we are available 24/7 and we offer a free case review.