Good Samaritan Act: Legal Purpose & State Law Guidelines


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What is the good Samaritan law?

The Good Samaritan Act is a law which protects any volunteer giving aid to an injured person in an emergency situation. The Good Samaritan Law offers legal protection in the form of exemption from lawsuits and liability, acting as a safeguard to those who help another in a real emergency, life-or-death situation. The law is in place so that bystanders do not feel reluctant to help out because of the risk of litigation later. This gesture is only recognized if carried out by a civilian who comes to the aid of an injured or sick person and not when the person is carrying out their duty as part of their job description, for example, a health care provider while at work. It is understood that the person giving the emergency aid owes the injured party a duty of care, that is to say they will not put the injured or sick person at more risk or exacerbate their injuries because of their actions or negligence.

Good Samaritan in Nevada

The Good Samaritan Act in Nevada has several conditions to be mindful of. First, it must be an emergency situation and the person receiving aid must be injured. For the case of the person providing aid, they must be doing so for free and must be working with good intentions, in good faith. Good Samaritan laws protect not only bystanders, but also volunteer firefighters, ambulance drivers, and search and rescue workers. In other words, as long as the aid you administer is in the best interest of the victim, and not for monetary gain, states with Good Samaritan laws encourage and protect anyone acting in good faith in a time of need.

While some states offer immunity to Good Samaritans, not all do, and claims of negligence of care can be made. The Good Samaritan law does not apply if the person giving aid is reckless or careless: this is considered “gross negligence” and the negligent party may be liable to the victim for worsening their injuries.

It is also true that a person is not obligated by law to assist or carry out first aid in most states. In today’s litigious society, the Good Samaritan Act means a person is encouraged to help a stranger who, if left alone, would be at risk of serious injury or death. 

How is it different in other states?

In the wake of increasing drug and alcohol deaths by overdose, the State of Nevada has added drug overdose provisions to its already existing Good Samaritan Law. This means that anyone who provides emergency help or reports an overdose is not in any liable.  The Good Samaritan Act provides immunity for the person, who having acted in good faith, saved the life of another. Any health care provider who dispenses Naloxone or any other opioid antagonist during treatment for a genuine medical emergency will not be exposing themselves to litigation in any way. This could be any individual identified as being at risk of a drug related overdose and a family member, friend, or anyone who might find themselves in a position to help that person at risk.

What is the purpose of good Samaritan laws?

The main purpose of Good Samaritan Laws are to encourage people to act when they find themselves in the position of a bystander in an emergency situation. The law encourages altruism in each one of us. Before the law was established, it was found that people, in an ever-increasingly litigious society, were reluctant to come to the aid of others for fear of exposing themselves to litigation.  

The aim of the Good Samaritan law is to allow a person to intervene in a time of need and help another person in an emergency situation. The big picture result of this aim is to foster a better society, where people are acting on their instincts to help others without hesitation or worry. The Good Samaritan law states that if the victim is unconscious or cannot respond, a person who finds themselves as a witness to the incident or emergency can step in and help on grounds of “implied consent”

Another objective of the Good Samaritan Act is to help in the rise of the opioid crisis. As drug overdose was on the rise, and the most common cause was from opioid overdose, Good Samaritan laws were implemented as a means of reducing the number of overdoses by encouraging victims, friends, and family to seek emergency help, calling 911 knowing that full immunity was guaranteed. 

People who act in an altruistic way should be lauded in our society. By having the Good Samaritan Act in place we give them protection and render our world a better place in which to live. So when we ask “What is the purpose of good Samaritan laws”? the answer is simple: make our society a better place. 

However, our world is certainly not yet a perfect place and lawsuits do happen. If, for any reason, you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney, we at Valiente Mott are the experts you need. Our legal team has many years of experience and is ready to help you fight for your rights. With costs clearly explained upfront, you will not have to worry about unexpected, crippling legal fees. Our Nevada personal injury attorney team has been protecting people all over the state of Nevada for years—why not give us a call and find out for yourself the kind of expert, knowledgeable legal representation you can count on with Valiente Mott.
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