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Can You Be Sued if You Hurt Someone While Trying to Help Them?

Friday, January 13, 2017By Richard Alexander

If you stop to help someone who has been in a car wreck, can you be held liable if you accidentally hurt them? All 50 states recognize some form of immunity in this area. These laws are known as “Good Samaritan” laws. The scope of Good Samaritan immunity depends on the law of the state where the harm occurred.

Imagine that you are driving down the road on your way to work and come upon a car that has hit a telephone pole. You pull over to see if any help is needed. No one else is around. When you approach the car, you hear the driver screaming that she is stuck and cannot get out. You see some type of fluid underneath the car. Concerned that the fluid might be gasoline, you quickly decide to try to free the driver from the car. You help release her leg from where it is lodged and help her walk from the vehicle to safety.

The driver’s treating physicians later determine that it is likely that the injuries the driver suffered in the crash were made worse when you released her leg from her mangled car. Can the driver sue you successfully for hurting her?

Probably not, at least in California. California’s Good Samaritan law has a specific provision that applies to people who are not medical and emergency personnel. The law provides immunity from lawsuits when these conditions are met:

  • The Good Samaritan provides either medical or nonmedical care or assistance.
  • The help is rendered “at the scene of an emergency.”
  • The Good Samaritan was acting in “good faith.”
  • The Good Samaritan receives no compensation for trying to help.
  • The Good Samaritan acts reasonably in providing assistance.

When these conditions are met, the Good Samaritan is entitled to legal immunity for his or her actions. The only exceptions are when any of the above conditions are not met.

The San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP will fervently work with you to procure all possible monetary compensation for you after your accident. Our goal is to help our clients and their families receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776. Alternatively, you can our online contact form and we will get back to you promptly.

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