Good Samaritan Laws Explained

What are Good Samaritan Laws?

What are Good Samaritan laws? You might have heard a lot about Good Samaritan laws in recent years, but you might not have a clear idea about what they are. Good Samaritan laws protect bystanders from being accused of blame when they choose to help the injured or ill. Without Good Samaritan laws in place, most bystanders will be extremely hesitant to help the distressed in case of an emergency.

It’s Not a License or a Badge

Don’t think that the Good Samaritan laws give you a license to act like a doctor. There potentially could be a civil lawsuit against you in the case that you provide damaging care. Basically, you should not perform any procedure that you are not certified to perform. If you have a current CPR certification, then you can perform CPR if necessary.

When some individuals are witnessing a choking victim, their immediate response is to hit the person on the back. Although you are tying to help, this is completely against modern first aid procedures. The proper technique is to ask the victim if they are choking, and then ask if you may assist them. For adults the proper assistance is the Heimlich maneuver. Hitting the victim on the back may cause the food to block the windpipe more and cause more serious choking. The Good Samaritan law isn’t really going to help you if you slap a choking victim on the back and cause the food to become lodged even further down that person’s windpipe.

You Might Be Under Legal Obligation

Good Samaritan laws, in certain parts of the nation, actually refer to laws the require citizens to assist individuals who need help. This reality was mocked in the final episode of Seinfeld when Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George stood by and watched a bystander get robbed. They even joked about it.

With that said, you really should only perform training that you certified to do. If you don’t have any training in first aid at all, then there are plenty of things that you could do. For example, any individual could call for help or anyone could try to communicate with the victim. This could prevent the victim from going into complete shock. Anyone individuals could also clear obstacles out of the way before medical professionals arrive on the scene. Good Samaritan laws can protect you if you do offer assistance but stick with offering assistance that is within your realm of expertise.