It can sometimes seem like selfless acts of kindness and charity have all but disappeared in today’s world. But the truth is that there are many everyday heroes out in the world who are willing to go out of their way to help others in need.
Often, “Good Samaritans” risk their health and well-being to save the lives of car accident victims. That’s why Georgia has laws that protect Good Samaritans who courageously offer help to injured individuals. Below, Butler Kahn briefly discusses Georgia’s Good Samaritan law, whom it protects, and what constitutes a Good Samaritan in the eyes of the state.
What Is the Good Samaritan Law in Georgia?
Under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-29, Georgia’s Good Samaritan law protects people from liability when they provide emergency care to others. If someone acts in good faith by rendering emergency aid to someone in trouble, the Good Samaritan law protects them from legal action.
What Is Georgia’s Good Samaritans Law?
Georgia’s Good Samaritan law was first established in 1962. Over the years, it has been revised and strengthened continuously to encourage more citizens to stop and help their fellow Georgians.
Georgia Code Section 51-1-29 is the foundation of Georgia’s Good Samaritan law. Essentially, the law protects individuals who render care or aid to an accident victim who has sustained an injury, including life-threatening injuries. If the person is unsuccessful in their attempt to save the victim’s life, or if they incidentally cause further injury to the victim through their actions, they cannot be held liable under the law.
Some other elements of Georgia’s law on Good Samaritans include:
- Medical providers, EMS personnel, surgeons, and others licensed to practice medicine cannot be held liable for civil damages when rendering aid for free outside of their jobs. They also can’t be held responsible when rendering free services to schools or non-profits, with rare exceptions. This aspect of the law aims to inspire healthcare professionals to offer their help to good causes free of charge.
- Good Samaritans cannot be held liable if they provide disaster relief, as long as they acted in good faith and did not cause injuries due to extreme negligence or intentional misconduct.
- If you attempt to use an AED defibrillator to save someone, you can’t be held liable in a civil suit. Again, this person must act in good faith and must not be intentionally negligent. The property owner where the AED is located and the person or team that installed the AED are also generally shielded from liability. This facet of Georgia state law encourages property owners to keep AEDs on-site for emergencies when paramedics can’t get to the property in time to save a person’s life.
Who Does the Georgia Good Samaritan Law Protect?
The Good Samaritan law protects individuals who provide aid or emergency care to an accident victim from liability unless the person renders assistance for a financial reward. In that case, they would not be protected from liability by the law if they harm the victim through their negligent actions.
The purpose of the Good Samaritan law is to encourage goodhearted people to help those in need without fear of consequences. If people believed they could face a lawsuit should they fail to render appropriate aid or save a victim’s life, they would be much less likely to act.
Most people are not trained to provide emergency care, and even the most well-intentioned person can make a mistake or fail to take appropriate action.
Thanks to Georgia’s law, more Good Samaritans are coming forward to help. But one of the unintended consequences of Georgia’s law is that some Good Samaritans end up suffering injuries themselves while trying to render aid to accident victims. Good Samaritans have also died while helping someone in need in some cases.
In 2012, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Good Samaritan died after his legs were severed by a train. He was attempting to help a motorist, whose minivan had plunged down an embankment and landed near some train tracks, move his vehicle out of harm’s way. As he tried to reach the minivan, he fell onto the train tracks and was hit by an oncoming train.
This horrific scenario is just one example of a Good Samaritan losing their life or suffering severe injuries after taking action to help a driver in need. Depending on the circumstances, Good Samaritans who risk their lives to assist accident victims could be entitled to claim compensation if they are injured in the course of rendering aid.
What Constitutes a Good Samaritan in Georgia?
In Georgia, a Good Samaritan is someone who acts in good faith to provide aid or emergency care to an accident victim. The key phrase is “good faith.” The act must be charitable, or the person is not protected from liability under the law.
Georgia law does not obligate people to assist an accident victim if they don’t want to. A Good Samaritan offers assistance voluntarily, of their own free will, and out of the goodness of their heart.
Our Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Are Ready to Talk with You
Thanks to Georgia’s Good Samaritan law, you can confidently render aid to someone in need knowing that you will be protected from liability if you fail to save the person’s life or you inadvertently worsen their injuries. If you are injured while trying to render aid, you could potentially seek compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs you incur.
The Georgia personal injury attorneys at Butler Kahn understand what you are going through if you are facing issues related to being a Good Samaritan or receiving aid from someone after suffering injuries in an accident. If you would like to discuss your situation with us for free, contact us by phone or online.