For people who suffer serious injuries in car accidents, getting immediate medical attention can make the difference in terms of whether they live or die. When other drivers or pedestrians pass by, they may either offer direct help, or call 911 to get help from the police or emergency medical personnel. For those people who stop to help the victims, there is always a risk that the assistance offered will cause more damage. If the injured victim is injured further due to the actions that a person takes when offering assistance, the injured person may be able to seek compensation.
Generally, there is no duty for anyone to assist or help an injured person in an accident, unless the person who is in a position to assist caused the accident that led to the person’s injuries. However, once a person begins to help, the person has a duty to finish helping the injured person or get another person to finish helping.
When a person renders assistance to an injured stranger, he may be referred to as a Good Samaritan. Good Samaritan laws are laws that seek to protect people who offer assistance in emergency situations from being subject to civil liability or being sued for the assistance they provide. Florida’s Good Samaritan law offers protection to Good Samaritans in some cases.
In Florida, a person who freely gives emergency care or treatment in good faith at the scene of a car accident cannot be held liable for damages caused by the care or treatment if the person acts reasonably in rendering the care or treatment. What is considered reasonable care varies from case to case depending on the facts. However, if the Good Samaritan has no medical training, taking actions that verge on medical procedures may not be deemed reasonable.
For example, the Good Samaritan law is not likely to protect a Good Samaritan with no medical training who decides that, in order to aid the injured person, he has to puncture the injured person’s lung and this results in the injured person suffering even further injury. It may also be considered irresponsible for a Good Samaritan to move an injured person from a crash site by dragging him away from the site despite the injured person protesting or screaming for the Good Samaritan to stop. If there is no immediate danger at the crash site, there would be no need to risk causing more damage by moving the injured person.
The Good Samaritan law applies differently when the assistance provided to an injured person is provided at a hospital or outside a hospital. The protection from liability in those cases may be more applicable to medical personnel and not untrained Good Samaritans. In addition, when a person’s doctor is providing medical care after a car accident, the doctor generally cannot rely on the Good Samaritan law to escape liability for providing unreasonable care.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a car accident, either in the accident or while a Good Samaritan was offering assistance, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation.