You may have heard the term “good samaritan laws”, but do you really understand how these laws can impact a car accident claim? Since the early 1960’s, the State of Georgia has had a Good Samaritan law in effect in some form or fashion. However, as with most laws, it has dramatically changed and improved over time.
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Good Samaritan laws have two main important purposes:
- To encourage and allow bystanders who witness a car accident to provide assistance – even without specialized medical training; and
- To ensure that people are not punished for trying to help another after a car accident if some mistake is made
The reason these laws are necessary is that – throughout the United States – people have historically been hesitant to provide life-saving aid to victims of personal injury accidents due to the risk that they may be sued or otherwise held liability for any further harm that might be caused. Good samaritan laws held to alleviate this anxiety by providing protection from suit for those who render emergency medical aid – both those without any training, as well as medical professionals in some circumstances.
It’s important to also remember that this law extends to any healthcare provided in Georgia that offers free and voluntary services in emergency situations.
Georgia's Good Samaritan Law and AEDs
Automated External Defibrillators (or AEDs) are portable, life-saving devices that can treat people with sudden cardiac arrest. These devices are often used in conjunction with CPR, and work by “restarting” a heart that has suddenly and unexpectedly stopped working. In Georgia, these laws protect a number of groups of people whenever an AED must be used. These include:
- Any person that uses an AED; and
- An owner of the location, building or facility when the AED was located; and
- A medical professional that oversaw the installation of the AED; and
- Any person that was responsible for the training associated with the AED.
Georgia's Good Samaritan Law and Disaster Relief
Georgia’s Good Samaritan law also contains provisions for shielding anyone who is engaged in providing disaster relief to the State under the direction of a Georgia State Agency. This can apply to pandemic situations, terrorist incidents, natural disasters and more. However, as stated above, these services need to be provided free of charge in order to qualify for this protection.
The 911 Amnesty Law in Goergia
While not exactly the same as Georgia’s Good Samaritan law, Georgia’s 911 Amnesty law states that an individual that calls 911 to seek assistance for a opioid or alcohol overdose is shielded from arrest, prosecution or conviction for certain drug offenses. The philosophy underlying this law is that we would much rather incentivize people to seek help than to fear criminal prosecution and suffer. Without such a law, people throughout Georgia would be far less likely to call 911 for assistance at risk of prosecution.
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan