Posted in Ask An Attorney, Personal Injury, Texas Laws on February 17, 2020
Being a good Samaritan means to help others when given the opportunity – especially strangers during an emergency. In Texas as well as many other states, Good Samaritan Laws protect people who try in good faith to render aid in medical emergencies. Understanding this law could encourage you to lend a helping hand without fear of legal repercussions if you are one of the first to the scene after a car accident or another disaster in Texas.
What Does the Good Samaritan Law Say About Providing Medical Assistance?
Good Samaritan laws encourage people to intervene and try to help if they witness emergencies. Texas’ Good Samaritan Law is in section 74.151 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. It states that anyone who administers emergency care in good faith will not be liable for civil damages. If you are a civilian who witnesses an auto accident, for example, victims cannot hold you liable for administering aid in good faith.
Under the law, if you try to provide medical assistance, the victim or his or her family cannot hold you responsible if it does not work. This law also protects you from liability if your actions unintentionally make things worse. If you accidentally exacerbate a spinal cord injury from twisting the victim’s body the wrong way when pulling him or her out of a crashed vehicle, for instance, the victim cannot hold you responsible. The Good Samaritan Law applies to those who provide medical assistance in most common situations, including car accidents, slip and falls, dog attacks, choking, and drowning.
When Does it Protect You From Civil Liability?
Good Samaritan laws work differently in different states. In Texas, the current law (lawmakers have revised it several times) specifically protects those who administer emergency care using automated external defibrillators. These are portable machines that administer shocks through the chest to get the heart to beat again. Someone who uses one of these to administer care in good faith during an emergency will not be liable for civil damages for the act performed. Texas’ Good Samaritan Law also applies to anyone who helps as a volunteer first responder, as well as those who do not have licenses or certifications in the medical industry.
Exceptions to the Law
A number of important exceptions to Texas’ Good Samaritan Law exist. The first is if the responder does not render aid in good faith. Good faith is the honest or sincere intent to help the victim. If the civilian does not have a good faith intent to help victims involved in the accident, anything he or she does that injures the victim could lead to liability for related damages.
The second exception is if the person performing emergency care commits an act that is willfully or wantonly negligent. Willful negligence refers to the person’s intent to harm the victim, while wanton negligence is the careless disregard for how the person’s actions might foreseeably impact or injure others. Willful or wanton negligence could make a good Samaritan liable for a victim’s injuries or death.
Section (b) of the law specifically states that it does not apply to anyone who renders care with the expectation of compensation or remuneration. In other words, the statute does not protect paid health care providers or paramedics who render aid as part of their jobs and expect to receive payment for doing so. These parties could be legally responsible for negligently causing a victim’s injury, illness or death. The statute also does not protect people who are at the scene of an emergency as agents for people who are soliciting business to perform a medical service for money.
Finally, the Good Samaritan Law in Texas does not protect a person from liability if he or she caused the emergency that injured the victim. A driver that negligently caused a car accident would still be liable for the crash, for example, even after rendering good-faith aid to the victim. Find out how the Good Samaritan Law may affect your injury claim by contacting a San Antonio personal injury attorney for counsel.