When Good Samaritans are Injured or Cause Injury

Do Good Deeds Always Go Unpunished?  Sometimes a good Samaritan unintentionally causes further injury to someone they are trying to help; or, a person gets injured trying rescue another person. What are the rules?

Good Samaritan.

By statute in Washington a good Samaritan in generally not liable for ordinary negligence. A good Samaritan is liable only for gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. This protection extends to licensed medical professionals acting without compensation in a community health care setting.

Rescue Doctrine.

What if someone attempts to aid another who is peril, and they get injured in the rescue attempt? Did they assume the risk?

No, is the short answer. A person injured while exercising reasonable care in attempting to rescue another from imminent peril the other person negligently caused may bring an injury claim against the other person.

For example, where a manufacturing defect causes a vehicle to roll over and a by-passer who comes to the driver’s aid is also injured, the by-passer has a claim against the manufacturer as well as the driver.

Professional rescuers such as firefighters and police do not have a negligence claim against the person that caused them to be called. The professional rescuer’s rules does not extend to intentional acts (such as a drunk person assaulting an officer) or to negligent acts of third-persons who are not the subject of the rescue attempt (such as a driver who collides with an officer who is in the course of responding to an emergency call).

The short summary of good Samraitan rules and the law of the rescue doctrine is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact us if you have questions about a personal injury mater.

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