NY Good Samaritan Law

Before you help, know your rights and how the New York Good Samaritan Law will affect you.

Many states have adopted #goodsamaritanlaws and thus the laws vary wildly from state to state. The implication of liability being greater by many people in regards to performing #CPR, using an #AED, or providing #firstaid in an emergency situation is simply not true. Anyone could potentially be sued for "gross negligence" as specified in the law below which I will explain. 

The Good Samaritan Law was enacted in California in 1959. 

NY State Good Samaritan Law https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/ems/art30.htm

  • Any person who voluntarily and without expectation of monetary compensation renders first aid or emergency treatment at the scene of an accident or other emergency outside a hospital, doctor's office or any other place having proper and necessary medical equipment, to a person who is unconscious, ill, or injured, shall not be liable for damages for injuries alleged to have been sustained by such person or for damages for the death of such person alleged to have occurred by reason of an act or omission in the rendering of such emergency treatment unless it is established that such injuries were or such death was caused by gross negligence on the part of such person. 

  • Any person who, or entity, partnership, corporation, firm or society that, purchases, operates, facilitates implementation or makes available #resuscitationequipment that facilitates #firstaid, an #automatedexternaldefibrillator or an epinephrine auto-injector device as required by law or local law.

Gross Negligence

  • Under New York Law, misconduct that arises to the level of gross negligence must show reckless indifference to the rights of others. The conduct must show a failure to use even the slight care or conduct that is so careless as to show complete disregard for the rights and safety of others. The gross negligence standard focuses on the severity of a party's deviation from reasonable care.

Case Study

While there are lawsuits - to date there are no cases were a good samaritan has actually lost. As you will see from this case, the importance of #savinglives and the steps taken to provide immunity to good samaritans will continue to be a priority.

One notable case in California (Van Horn v. Watson 2008). In Van Horn, the defendant Lisa Torti pulled her friend Alexandra Van Horn out of a car following an accident. Torti claimed she removed Van Horn from the car because she feared it was going to catch on fire or explode. Van Horn suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident, including permanent paralysis. She claimed that by removing her from the car, Torti had exacerbated her injuries and caused the irreversible damage to her spinal cord.

Torti claimed she was immune from civil liability for Van Horn’s injuries under the Good Samaritans law. The trial court agreed. On appeal, however, the court reversed the lower court’s decision and found that the statute did not apply to Torti because she provided nonmedical rather than medical care. The California Supreme Court later upheld the appellate court’s decision.

Fortunately, within one week of the court decision, assembly bill 83 was introduced, with the added provision of protecting anyone from civil liability who provides medical or Non-medical care assistance on the scene of a medical emergency. On August 6th 2009, Assembly bill 83 was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. 

The new law has received support from both plaintiff and defense attorney associations.

“This bill strikes an important balance between the human desire to help people who are in distress, and the rights of victims. Consumer attorneys are delighted to join police, firefighters, paramedics and insurance and business groups in endorsing this measure,” said Christine Spagnoli, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

New York Supporting Laws

We all feel some level of compassion towards one another and most people in good nature would want to help someone in need. In summary always remember to think of your safety first, act prudent, and remember:

  • Help with no expectation of compensation

  • Help within your scope of knowledge or training

  • Help but don't abandon the victim until emergency services or someone with the same or greater level of training can take over.

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