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The end of Good Samaritans

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Good Samaritan Laws depend on the state. If your are a medical person, and bypass an accident scene in some states, you can be effectively sued for not stopping and rendering aid.


As for cars exploding, not!! But they do burn nice. Case in point. Just a few weeks ago in our county, a Life Flight pilot and his fiancee came across a single vehicle accident with a partial entrapment, and burning. By the time the pilot managed to remove the victim from the car, the victim sustained 4th degree burns and will lose both lower extremities. The victim is alive for now.


I guess in California, We wait until the car blows, and then treat once the victim has been thrown clear. Someone needs to talk with Arnold. Anyone out there know him?


Medical lawsuits are funny things.


While tending to an trauma victim while working EMS, if I remove clothing, a bra or other undies on a female victim, which is protocol, (strip them naked so you don't miss injuries, male and female) without cutting them off, I open myself up for an unwinnable suit. I automatically loose if it is a woman.


While removing a man from an upper floor of a burning building. I am allowed to ride him down the ladder using my thigh and knee between his legs. Guess what happens if I do the same with a woman? You guessed it, if I'm sued, I automatically loss. I'm suppose to throw her over my shoulder and take a chance of loosing my balance climbing down the ladder just so my knee is not in her crotch.


True story. Two firefighters are sent to a second floor apartment in the back of a second story structure fire to tend to a chest pain victim. On the way across the building, the medic goes through the floor. The EMT stops to get the medic help and tend to the medic. The medic is severely injured with spinal and other injuries. The EMT is sued by the chest pain victim for delay of care and abandonment because he stopped to aid the medic. The medic was sued for delay of care. The case was won because the EMT or medic supposedly made sure the scene was safe.

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In Tennessee, if a physician fails to render care, they can be sued. However, they effectively have no Good Samaritan coverage because a professional can vary from Red Cross First Aid based upon their judgement. Then when EMS arrives, they cannot direct the care provided by the EMS who can only follow the orders of an ER physician who is always in an ER and not present on scene. Most physicians have coverage in the range of 1-5 million dollars. Any judgement in excess of that amount will be paid by the individual. Most physicians cannot afford the liability that an accident scene entails and will avoid it (and avoid identification). It is sad. As to the comment of doing the right thing, is it right to risk the future of your children and spouse? A $25,000,000.00 judgement will leave the physician owing ~$20,000,000.00 which they can never repay. It can leave their family is a serious financial problem. As to the care rendered, in the field physicians will be able to do only slightly more than first aid trained individuals and less than EMS who will have equipment.

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I agree with most postings here, but I'd like to hear the facts of this particular case. It is possible that the injured woman in the car asked her rescuer to cease her efforts. Perhaps the victim was aware that there was a spinal injury and felt the car was secure. If that was the case, how would you feel about your "friend" yanking you out of the car then? Some good Samaritans aren't all that good...and sometimes a would-be-rescuer is just someone looking for a spotlight. Just saying...without the facts, it's a little hard to judge this case fairly.

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This topic is also being on one of our other scouting forums. In that forum, it has come out that the rescuer was intoxicated, thus questionably doing more harm. Supposedly, that is why Cali Supreme Court is allowing the trial to go forward. So the rule of the day is IF YOU HAVE HAD A FEW BEFORE WONDER OUT, AND WHILE IN AN IMPAIRED STATE ATTEMPT A RESCUE CAUSING MORE HARM, THEN THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT THE GOOD SAMARITAN LAWS WILL NOT COVER YOU. It has nothing to do with a sober rescuer using good judgement.


Does anyone out there have access to the actual case information who can verify this?


As also stated on the other site, this also protects us from poorly trained wouldbe (want-a-be) first aid providers and rescuers. And yes, the implication was there about us, BSA, and how most just push the requirements through with now real follow up to make sure the kids realy umderstand and know how to do things correctly, like back in the 70's when we had to do it. My First Aid MD was a ARC taught FA and AFA program, group setting, all scouts. We then went back and used that to reach the skills for TF-FC.

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The ABC article indicates that both victim and rescuer had been drinking but does not say whether rescuer was intoxicated. It also indicates that the case turned on whether it was the assistance given was medical assistance. Searching California good samaritan produces a number of articles about the case going back to when it was in Appellate court. Seems that the California statute is being interpreted to protect doctors on an accident scene rather than lay people.


Important lesson here (in addition to being as well trained as possible) is to know the good samaritan laws in your state. Some are better than others, some are broad and some are quite narrow. In at least one state the law only applies to CPR or severe bleeding. Some states only cover trained rescuers. Most states require that the victim not object to receiving aid but do not require a victim to give permission. Some require that a conscious victim consent to aid (an unconscious victim gives implied consent).


Victim in the California case was conscious and it appears she did not give consent. Whether she objected to receiving aid is unclear. In ASHI Wilderness First Aid training I was taught to always ask for consent if the victim was conscious.


Other important point is that the ruling only allows the victim to sue, it doesn't rule one way or the other regarding fault. A jury will get to sort that out and either award damages or not.

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Nah, ASM915, no part of da ruling turned on whether the rescuer was intoxicated. That would be a question of fact for the trial court, not a question of law for the Supreme Court. Da California ruling narrowed the scope of statutory immunity to just medical care in emergencies. So for any non-medical response, like a water rescue or most wilderness rescue, a bystander is liable for any negligence in the rescue. That means if you choose to toss a rope to the guy in the river and it gets wound around his neck because you didn't throw it perfectly, it's on your dime. You didn't have to throw him a rope.


Statutory immunity in the form of Good Samaritan laws does have its downside, eh? It means if a bumbling rescuer injures you, yeh can't recover from them. It sometimes lets people get away with something that we wish they didn't get away with.


In that way, it's like "innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt" or trial by jury, or other protections in the Bill of Rights. They all mean that sometimes people get away with stuff that we wish they didn't get away with.


But da Bill of Rights is still a good thing despite that, eh? That's because the consequences of not affording that protection are far worse for society. Same in this case. When any of us or our kids' lives are truly in danger, we don't want bystanders to exercise their right not to help, eh? We want to live in a society where people can come to our rescue without worryin' that if they don't do it perfectly they'll destroy their family's livelihood.


Me, I'm willing to let this woman off in exchange for havin' some guy throw me a rope when I'm drowning. How 'bout you?




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wingnut said:


"I told you it was time to pull out of California."


I left in 1978. My legal residency became Missouri in December 1989 after I left active military service.


This is another example of the "Peeple's Republik of Kalifonia!" using foolish decisionmaking processes. It happens at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial levels there.


Sigh. Bodysurfing Refugio was so much fun in its day.

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You might surprised to learn that Missouri's good samaritan law only covers medical professionals and other persons with appropriate training. It also has an exception for "gross negligence or willful or wanton acts or omissions" Ever known a lawyer to call negligence anything less than gross?




I suspect the woman would find as little protection in MO as she did in CA.



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AGain, the ABC story has some more info: http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/Story?id=6498405&page=2


(1) It is claimed that the injured person was able to get their seat belt off themselves, showing a state of non paralysis at that time.

(2) The rescuer did not pull the other people out

(3) Alcohol was involved

(4) If the rescuer was afraid of the car exploding, why did she "drop" the person by the car and leave her there?


While I don't like the precedent that can be set, I think a case can be made that this is not emergency care. I thought everyone learned in drivers ed not to move a body in an accident unless there is no other choice.




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Eagle 1982,


The defendant in this case may not have acted properly. The issue that is disconcerting is that the court parsed rescue and emergency medical care into two different things rather saying that both were the intent of the law. The court could have ruled that if the defendant followed appropriate rescue and first aid procedures she would be protected. Most states require that some accepted rescue and first aid guidelines be reasonably followed. That would have protected appropriate rescues but still allowed this suit to go forward with it being decided on whether proper guidelines were reasonably followed. I leave it up to the attorneys to critique my summation.

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