What are Good Samaritan Laws?

Good Samaritan laws provide legal protection for ordinary people who step up to help in an emergency. They’re meant as a way to encourage those who aren’t health care professionals to act, by removing the threat of legal liability for injuries or other problems that could result from their intervention.

In some countries, a Good Samaritan law actually requires a person to act, but Canada’s laws don’t obligate you to do so. Generally, the law states that anyone who provides emergency medical aid to an ill, injured or unconscious person at the scene of an accident or emergency can’t be sued for injuries or death caused by the rescuer’s actions – whether it’s something they’ve done or neglected to do – as long as their actions weren’t grossly negligent.

There’s no rigid definition for “grossly negligent” but past court cases indicate it means failing to meet a certain standard of care. For example, you couldn’t be sued for breaking someone’s rib performing CPR but an impromptu surgery or radical manoeuvre could spell trouble.

Also, hesitating to help someone – perhaps someone you don’t like – could be viewed as grossly negligent, as would injuring others in an attempt to provide aid. If you shove through a crowd to an accident scene and push a bystander into oncoming traffic, you could be liable for their injuries.

 

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Links

Good Samaritan Act, 2001

Sources

https://globalnews.ca/news/1660423/do-bystanders-have-a-legal-obligation-to-help-in-emergencies/

http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/blog/good-samaritan-laws-in-canada

 

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