You're driving along Route 101 when suddenly the car in front of you veers sharply off the road and flips over. The driver is trapped. You want to help, but ironically find yourself paralyzed with fear. What if you wind up doing more harm than good? What if the driver or his family decides to sue you?
To curb this fear and remove legal repercussions in a lawsuit-crazed society, the Good Samaritan Law was enacted nationwide on a statutory basis. As a general rule, the Good Samaritan Law provides protection for medically untrained individuals to help those in distress. This law gives defense of the rescuer from torts that might subsequently be issued on behalf of the individual who was assisted.
New Hampshire has a general Good Samaritan Law in Section 508:12 of S.B. 67 that reads:
“If any person, in good faith, renders emergency care at the place of the happening on an emergency, or while in transit in an ambulance or rescue vehicle to a person who is in urgent need of care as a result of the emergency, and if the acts of care are made in good faith and without willful or wanton negligence, the person who renders the care is not liable in civil damages for his acts or omissions in rendering the care as long as he receives no compensation for the care from or on behalf of the person cared for, and provided further that any person rendering emergency care shall have the duty to place the injured person under the care of a physician, nurse, or other person qualified to care for such person as soon as possible and to obey the instructions of such qualified person.”
Like statutory laws in many other states, Section 508:12 provides defense from torts arising against individuals who have provided emergency aid to persons in need. This defense, however, does not extend to physicians, medical practitioners and other emergency personnel – a standard component of other Good Samaritan Laws nationwide.
Outreach to those in need – whether physically, financially or emotionally – is a charitable, noble tendency that has become a defining component of American culture. With the Good Samaritan Laws in action, you can safely give reasonable assistance to injured individuals at a motor vehicle collision or other accident without the threat of tort litigation.
So, if you are ever faced with the opportunity to rescue someone who needs your help, at least know you have legal protection if your efforts somehow backfire. If, despite the Good Samaritan Law, you are sued, a qualified personal injury attorney will take firm steps to have the law applied in your case.
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