Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good Samaritan ruling

Now you can sue someone for helping you? Really? I am amazed by this ruling from California. The story is that coworkers on their way home from a party were in a car accident. One person (from another car) dragged a woman from the car, thinking the car would catch on fire. The person who was dragged from the car is now a paraplegic. The paraplegic now wants to sue the person who dragged her from the car, and says she should have waited for emergency personnel.

I'm not sure who I should be most disgusted with in this case. I understand that being paralyzed is unimaginable and horrible. But, while I might not prefer that to being dead, I certainly would prefer it to being burned - a little, a lot, or to death. So, I can see how one might be bitter about being paralyzed, but why sue someone who was trying to help you?

And the courts - don't they have a duty to protect the Good Samaritan? Aren't there places where it is a crime to stand by without helping (or was that just a Seinfeld episode?). Why would anyone help anyone else, if the possibility of being sued is now real and present?

I'm not really the type to stop and help - because I never feel like I have anything to offer. I'm short, not very strong, and I don't usually react quickly (i.e. pulling over if I see an accident). Also, I am fortunate enough to not see many accidents. But the ones I have seen and could do nothing about stay with me. I want to be ready the next time.

I guess the Good Samaritans must hope for a true jury of their peers if they do get sued. It's unlikely (never say never) that I would vote in favor of punishing someone for trying to help, and I believe most people are like me.


  1. As a RN who has responded to quite a few emergencies in the field, I will certainly be more circumspect to do so.

  2. My medical indemnity policy comes with specific cover for good samaritan acts. I am forever dreading that announcement on a plane....

    Sad, but true.