Imagine you’re driving down the road and you see someone stranded all alone after an accident. It appears to have been a hit and run, and no one is there to help the injured victim.
Your first instinct is to stop and help. The person is in need and you would want someone to help you if you were in the same situation. But then you think, “What if something goes wrong? What if I can’t help them? Would I be the one to blame? Could I get in trouble? Could they sue me?”
In Ohio, there is a law called the “Good Samaritan” law that provides protection from lawsuits to people who give first aid and/or other emergency care or treatment to someone suffering from an injury or sudden illness.
The “Good Samaritan” law only applies outside of a hospital or medical facility. Once you enter a medical facility the good samaritan is no longer protected, as it is assumed someone more qualified would be available to help. For example, the “Good Samaritan” law applies in parks, restaurants, businesses, homes, streets, and highways, but not hospitals or doctor’s offices.
Because the “Good Samaritan” law was created to protect volunteers, it does not protect anyone who is being paid to perform the volunteer, emergency services or anyone expects to be paid to perform the services. What does this mean for off-duty doctors and nurses? A doctor or nurse, outside of a medical facility, is protected as long as he or she is does not expect to be paid for their work.
Volunteer emergency services are protected by the “Good Samaritan” law as long as they are within the scope of reasonable.
“Good Samaritan” law limits its protection if someone is proven to have acted “willfully or wantonly,” or in other words, with intentional or malicious misconduct. For example, if the good samaritan steals money from the victim or is inappropriate in his or her actions, that behavior is not protected by the law.
If you see someone in need of help on the road after an accident, don’t be afraid to lend a hand. You are safe from liability and you just might save a life.
Author: Tim Misny | For over 34 years, personal injury lawyer Tim Misny has represented the injured victim in birth injury, medical malpractice, and catastrophic injury/wrongful death cases, serving “Cleveland, Akron/Canton, Columbus & Cincinnati, Ohio.” You can reach Tim by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 1 (877) 944-4373.