In general, laws and law enforcement exist to protect people and property. One of these many laws is the Good Samaritan Law, which seeks to protect those who do what they can to help others. After all, helping others is an ideal and practice every society should strive for. However, knowing what the Good Samaritan Law is, who it protects, how it protects them, and why it is important is something every American should know, especially if they intend to do whatever they can to help others.
What is the Good Samaritan Law?
Picture this: you are driving your car through a city at night. It just finished pouring rain about a half-hour ago, and the wet city streets are reflecting lights from all over. As you pass through a busy intersection, a truck driver thinks he has a green light, but it’s actually yours. The truck driver ends up crashing into your car. You are okay, but the crash damaged your car. You are stuck, and something smells like it is burning.
You begin to call for help, but there is no response. You look around, and there are dozens of people watching you struggle. No one helps you because they are afraid that becoming involved will put them at risk for legal repercussions. This is what a society without Good Samaritan laws looks like.
Good Samaritan laws are an important and necessary part of any society because they allow bystanders to act in good conscience to provide assistance to people who are injured, in danger, or incapacitated. Without them, any person who becomes involved in a situation like a car accident would be in danger of facing legal repercussions or prosecution. However, there are some limits in providing assistance under Good Samaritan laws.
History of Good Samaritan Laws
Good Samaritan laws allow everyday people to help those in crisis situations. The idea and importance of the average person helping another in need is a concept that is thousands of years old and often taught in a variety of religious practices. In fact, Good Samaritan laws borrowed their name from a parable in the Bible called the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable can be found in Luke 10:29-37. It essentially tells the story of a man from Samaria helping a traveler, who is of a different religion and ethnicity, after the traveler is beaten and robbed. From this story, any person who helps a person in peril is metaphorically a Good Samaritan.
Why Good Samaritan Laws are Important
In general, Good Samaritan laws are important because they empower everyday citizens to provide assistance to those in need. Without these laws, countless members of a society would suffer. Without immediate help, a person’s injuries from an accident can worsen, or they may even die. By empowering everyday citizens to be able to provide some level of care and assistance without fear of legal repercussions, it creates a society where people do not need to be afraid to help each other.
Limitations of Good Samaritan Laws
Although Good Samaritan laws are important and promote a more helpful society, there are certain limitations for those acting under Good Samaritan laws. While they do empower everyday citizens to take action, they do limit the kinds of actions a person can take and why they can or cannot act. Most notably, most Good Samaritan laws prevent a person from helping if they are helping in order to receive some sort of reward. A person operating under Good Samaritan laws must be providing assistance only out of an interest in providing assistance to others.
However, many Good Samaritan laws are much more complex and have even greater limits – depending on the state or country a person is in. Some laws dictate that an individual must be in imminent peril in order to receive assistance from a person protected by a Good Samaritan law. If there is no imminent peril, the law may not apply. Other Good Samaritan laws also dictate who can be a Good Samaritan. In some states, only a person with medical training can be a Good Samaritan – and therefore receive protection from the state’s Good Samaritan law.
It is important to understand your country, state, or area’s Good Samaritan laws before acting. In doing so, you can fully understand what actions are protected and what actions are not.
How to Operate Under Good Samaritan Laws
While Good Samaritan laws often vary by state, country, and more, there are a couple tips a person can follow in order to ensure they will more than likely be protected under them. These tips include:
Do Your Best
If a person is going to help another in peril, they must be willing to do their best in providing any assistance. This means helping another only to help, not for any other reason. In general, if a person acts in good faith to try and help another, it is unlikely that they will face any repercussions or consequences. However, it is helpful if a person also has some medical training, such as CPR certification.
If a person is trying to help another under the protection of Good Samaritan laws, that person must act reasonably. This means that they must provide assistance within reason. They must use common sense and only provide assistance they are confident in giving. This also means a person should not accept gifts or rewards since these would be deemed unreasonable under many Good Samaritan laws.
The Good Samaritan Law and Addiction
Good Samaritan laws empower people to help others in crisis and in peril. This can also extend to those trying to help individuals with addictions who are overdosing on a substance. Overdoses are serious medical emergencies that need to be treated as quickly as possible.
If you or a loved one are living with an addiction, help is available! At Knoxville Recovery Center, our team of addiction specialists offer a variety of treatments and therapies to help people overcome and manage addictions. Contact us today for more information!