Good Samaritan Laws and How They Can Affect a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Most personal injury lawsuits are based on the theory of negligence. In essence, these lawsuits claim that one party, the defendant, is liable to another party, the plaintiff, as a result of some kind of negligent act or failure to act on the part of the defendant. In order to prove a negligence lawsuit, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty that was violated by the defendant’s actions.

Semi-TruckGood Samaritan laws act to limit the liability of those who happen across an emergency and try to help but end up causing more harm in the process. The idea behind these laws is that the government wants to encourage people to help others in peril, so immunity from civil liability is given to those who try to help, even if their attempts end up causing additional injuries. However, there are limits to Good Samaritan laws. Generally, Good Samaritan laws do not apply if the actor was grossly negligent or reckless in providing the care. Another issue that may come up is exactly which conduct is covered under a Good Samaritan law. A recent case looks at one example of how a Good Samaritan law may affect a plaintiff’s right to recover compensation.

Carter v. Reese:  A Truck Rolls Backwards, Crushing a Man’s Leg

Carter, a truck driver, slipped and fell after unloading his rig. His leg became stuck in the gap, and he was unable to free himself, so he called out for help. Reese heard Carter’s cries for help and came to assist. Carter told Reese to get into the truck and put it in drive so that he could get his leg free. Carter told Reese to be sure not to put the truck in reverse.

Reese got into the truck and then realized he had no clue how to operate the vehicle. He attempted to move the truck forward, but in doing so he released the brake, and the truck rolled backwards, crushing Carter’s leg. As a result of the injuries, Carter’s leg was amputated.

Carter filed a negligence lawsuit against Reese, claiming that Reese was negligent in causing the truck to crush his leg. Reese, however, claimed that even if it was negligent, he was only trying to help Carter, who was trapped at the time. Reese claimed that his conduct was covered under the Good Samaritan law. Carter disagreed, arguing that the Good Samaritan law applies only to medical professionals who arrive at the scene of an emergency and provide necessary medical care.

The court hearing the case agreed with Reese that his conduct was covered under the Good Samaritan law. The court began by looking at the language in the law, and it explained that nowhere in the language is the law limited to “medical care” by a “medical professional.” Instead, the law uses broad terms like “any person” and “emergency care,” expanding the reach of the law to Reese’s conduct at issue in the case.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Virginia accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Keep in mind that there may be multiple parties who are responsible for your injuries, and it is not until a thorough investigation is conducted that all necessary facts will come to light. Call the Virginia car accident lawyers at Charles B. Roberts & Associates at 703-491-7070 to set up a consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

See More Blog Posts:

Manufacturer Escapes Liability in Product Liability Lawsuit Based on “Optional Equipment Doctrine”, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 18, 2016.

Battery Claims Based on Lack of Informed Consent May Be Subject to Procedural Requirements of Medical Malpractice Claims, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, September 6, 2016.