Can You Be Held Liable for Helping Someone Injured in a Car Accident?

Good Samaritan statutes are generally designed to protect individuals from civil liability for any negligent acts or omissions committed while voluntarily providing emergency care. The primary purpose of the statutes is to encourage prompt emergency care by granting immunity from civil damages and removing the fear of liability. The statutes generally attempt to eliminate common-law rules, under which a volunteer, choosing to assist an injured person although having no duty to do so, was liable for failing to exercise reasonable care in providing the assistance. After the first Good Samaritan statute was passed in 1959, all 50 states have enacted some form of the legislation. All 50 states have passed some variation of the “Good Samaritan Act.” Some of these laws create a duty to rescue and encourage bystanders to assist. Yet other Good Samaritan laws are intended to protect the actions of private citizens assisting others in emergency circumstances, outside of a hospital or physician’s office, where some injury is inadvertently caused.

The Good Samaritan Act is found in Fla. Stat. § 768.13 and it basically provides that any person including medical practitioners who gratuitously and in good faith render emergency care and treatment at the scene of an emergency shall not be liable for damages when the injured victim does not object and if the person providing the treatment acts as a reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. The act distinguishes emergency care and treatment rendered in a hospital from emergency care and treatment rendered outside a hospital.

Florida’s Good Samaritan Act begins by addressing any person providing assistance, as follows:

“Any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations related to and arising out of a public health emergency …, a state of emergency … or at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment, without objection of the injured victim or victims thereof, shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances”

Under Florida’s Good Samaritan Act, any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations related to and arising out of a public health emergency declared pursuant to statute, a state of emergency that has been declared pursuant to statute, or at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment, without objection of the injured victim or victims thereof, will not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.

Emergency Care and Treatment Rendered in a Hospital

Additionally, any health care provider, including a licensed hospital, providing emergency services pursuant to federal statute will not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such medical care or treatment. However, The Good Samaritan Act provides that immunity will not apply to damages that result from care or treatment or the failure to provide care or treatment when the circumstances demonstrate a reckless disregard for the consequences that affect the life or health of another. A health care provider acts in reckless disregard of the life or health of another when he engages in conduct which he knew or should have known at the time the emergency medical services were rendered would create an unreasonable risk of injury so as to affect the life or health of another, and such risk was substantially greater than that which is necessary to make the conduct negligent. Every hospital that is granted immunity shall accept and treat all emergency care patients, within the operational capacity of the facility, without regard to their ability to pay. If a hospital or emergency care facility fails or refuses to do so, disciplinary action may be instituted against the facility.

Emergency Care and Treatment Rendered Outside a Hospital

The Good Samaritan Act provides immunity from civil liability to health care providers who gratuitously and in good faith render emergency care and treatment in situations related to and arising out of a state of emergency which has been declared pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 252.36. It also grants immunity to health care providers who render emergency medical care and treatment to injured persons at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place that has proper medical equipment. The act establishes a standard of care which provides that health care providers shall not be held liable for civil damages as a result of rendering emergency medical care and treatment, or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the health care provider acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances. If the health care provider does not comply with this standard of care, the grant of immunity will not apply. In addition, the grant of immunity will not apply if the victim objects to receiving the care or treatment.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an accident, the car accident attorneys at Suarez & Montero can help you recover lost wages and compensation to pay for medical bills and treatment. Let us review your case and discuss your legal options. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation and stand ready to protect your rights. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation!

We serve clients throughout Florida including those in the following areas:

Miami-Dade: Aventura, Coral Gables, Doral, Fontainebleau, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, North Miami, Tamiami, and Westchester.

Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Weston; and Palm Beach County including Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach.

Jaime Suarez

An experienced legal personal injury defense professional in Miami, who is dedicated to helping accident victims with personal injury cases involving automobile accidents, brain and spinal cord injuries, slip and fall accidents, prescription errors, wrongful death, and accidents at work.