It May Not Be Good To Be A “Good Samaritan”
Most people know what a good Samaritan is. It is commonly described as a do-gooder or an upstanding citizen. When someone thinks of a good Samaritan, the image of a person helping an elderly old lady across the street comes to mind. However, under the law, a good Samaritan has a different meaning. A good Samaritan is still someone who assists someone in need, but under the law of most states-including California, a person who assists someone in need of help can be liable for lending a helping hand.
Under California law, a good Samaritan may be liable for an injury caused by his or her negligence in rendering aid, where he or she fails to exercise due care and that failure increases the risk of harm or harm is suffered because of the victim’s reliance on the good Samaritan’s undertaking. Generally, the negligence of the good Samaritan must be extreme or reckless. If these factors exist, the good Samaritan could be held legally liable for the injuries or death of an individual, even though he or she was trying to help them.
Last month a case settled in San Diego County for half a million dollars where the good Samaritan doctrine was the main issue in the case. In that case, a young male adult was partying with a twenty year old female. The two were using crystal meth when the female overdosed and lost consciousness. The male tried to wake her, but after his efforts failed, he put her in his car to drive her to the hospital. After about seven minutes of driving, he stopped his car on the side of the road and decided to administer CPR in an effort to resuscitate her. At that time, he allegedly called emergency services and told them he had found a girl unconscious on the side of the road and also asked for instructions on how to properly administer CPR. The female ended up dying.
The female’s heirs sued the young man and his family claiming that he was liable for her death even though he was acting as a good Samaritan. The heirs argued that the actions of the young man increased her chance of death and reduced her chance of survival. The heirs argued that the young man negligently attempted to render aid with CPR and be a good Samaritan, but in fact delayed medical providers from rendering aid by wasting precious time driving her body for seven minutes and eventually stopping to perform CPR which he was not skilled in doing. The heirs claimed that a reasonable person would have simply called 911 upon finding her unconscious and that his lack of due care in rendering aid caused her premature death.
If you find yourself facing a difficult legal problem it is essential that you hire a skilled attorney who understands the law. The attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group, LLP have over forty years of combined experience. Our attorneys have handled an array of cases during that time. Whether you have a catastrophic injury case, a complex commercial dispute, a challenging civil rights claim or a simple landlord tenant dispute, it is important that you have an experienced attorney on your side. If you believe you have a case, or need to defend against one, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation.