Good Samaritan Laws-An Overview

The other day, a client was telling me a story.¬† While trying to describe somebody’s personality, he said this: “She’s the type of person that will find fault in everything you do. If you push her off the tracks just seconds before she is about to be struck by a speeding locomotive, she’ll sue you for bruising her leg and soiling her clothes.” And that reminded me of New York’s Good Samaritan law, today’s topic. the full report¬†is an excellent resource for this.

Common Law: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Generally speaking, there is no duty to come to the aid of somebody that has been in an accident and in need of emergency medical assistance. However, not long ago, if you attempted to render medical assistance to somebody and botched the rescue, chances were you would be sued. Therefore, educated bystanders wouldn’t dare attempt a rescue.Since the common law discouraged bystanders from attempting to render medical assistance to those in need, the legislature, recognizing this result was both unacceptable and undesirable, enacted in 2000 what is generally referred to as the Good Samaritan law.

Effect of the Law

New York’s Good Samaritan law carves out specific circumstances when an individual shall not be held liable for ordinary negligence in attempting to render medical assistance. Instead, they will only be held liable in cases of gross negligence.

Gross Negligence

Simply put, negligence is a failure to exercise ordinary care. Gross negligence means a failure to use even slight care, or is conduct that is so careless as to show complete disregard for the rights and safety of others.