Imagine the following situation. You are on your way to work when you witness a devastating vehicle accident. Your first thought is to rush to the victim’s aid because you cannot just stand there and watch or go about your business. However, you may begin to have second thoughts due to the fear of being held responsible if you aggravate the victim’s injury or make things worse.
Luckily, Florida enacted a Good Samaritan law that provides immunity to those who render aid to the injured or someone in danger. However, you could still be held liable for making the victim’s injury worse, as are exceptions to Florida’s Good Samaritan statute.
Recently, a 32-year-old Good Samaritan from Port St. Lucie made national headlines when he fearlessly crossed the C-23 canal and crossed all highway lanes to render aid to a UPS driver. As reported by CBS12, the UPS truck rolled over after one of its tires blew.
The Good Samaritan told reporters that cars were driving past the overturned truck, and no one stopped to help the victim. The man went through the C-23 canal and crossed all highways lanes in order to save the UPS driver. Luckily, the driver did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
But what would happen if the Good Samaritan aggravated the driver’s injury while trying to render aid? Besides, the Good Samaritan could have been injured himself while crossing the highway. Below, we will discuss everything you need to know about Florida’s Good Samaritan law.
Originally, Florida’s Good Samaritan law was enacted to protect medical professionals from liability in the event they provide good-faith medical care during an emergency outside of a hospital setting and end up causing harm.
Under Florida Statutes Section 768.13, the so-called Good Samaritan Act, any person cannot be held liable “for any civil damages” stemming from their attempts to “gratuitously” and “in good faith” provide emergency care or treatment.
Those who choose to render aid to accident victims must protect themselves from harm. For example, after a car accident, beware of other vehicles that do not stop and continue driving. Otherwise, you risk sustaining an injury yourself or causing a chain-reaction crash.
A person who decides to render aid to the victim has a duty to stay at the scene and act in a reasonable way. A Good Samaritan has a duty to avoid making the victim’s injury worse by their action or lack thereof.
Moving an injured person could be dangerous because you risk making the victim’s injury worse. For example, if a victim suffered a spinal cord injury, a Good Samaritan risks paralyzing them by moving the victim even if his or her intentions were nothing but good.
Despite Florida’s Good Samaritan law, you could potentially be held liable for worsening an injured victim’s condition while trying to help. A Good Samaritan can be held liable for aggravating the victim’s injury if the Good Samaritan:
The statute explicitly says that a Good Samaritan is immune from civil liability in the absence of “objection of the injured victim or victims thereof.” Thus, the injured victim should give their consent prior to rendering aid. If a Good Samaritan decides to help without the victim’s consent, and the person ends up suffering more damages, the Good Samaritan could be held liable for making the injury worse.
Thus, while you can still help a victim in the event of an emergency, such as a pedestrian accident, you must obtain their consent before moving them out of harm’s way. Even if the injured person is in danger, a Good Samaritan could be held liable for any resulting damages and losses if they decide to move the victim while ignoring their request to not move them.
Even though Florida’s Good Samaritan law is designed to protect those who render aid in an emergency situation without the fear of being sued for the consequences, the helper must exercise due care when helping a victim. Otherwise, a Good Samaritan could be held liable for the resulting harm.
If you have been injured in an accident and believe that a Good Samaritan made your personal injury worse or you are a Good Samaritan who is being accused of aggravating someone’s injury, speak with one of our Florida car accident lawyers. With the law offices in North Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie, Fetterman & Associates, P.A., can provide valuable legal representation. Call at (561)-666 -9850 to review your legal options.
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