"Good Samaritan" liable in civil court for damages as the result of her act

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.latimes.com/features/health/medicine/la-me-good-samaritan19-2008dec19,0,6547898.story

    Interesting... a USC law professor actually concurs with the assessment. It seems to me like a really dangerous precedent.
     
  2. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #2
    I guess this will make everyone learn their lesson.... Don't help anyone! :D
     
  3. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #3
    This is NOT good, and shows the lack of common sense and will to help anyone in a time of need.

    This would mean that if any big event would happen, like another 9/11, any person who helps another to escape or save them could be sued. And how many people pitched in to help on 9/11 that were not 'professionals', as they mentioned?

    It's easy to see why there is a lack of faith in a fellow person nowadays..

    BL.
     
  4. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #4
    I can see their point. You really could make the problem worse, but it will make anybody scared to help anymore.

    Would you rather get blown up in a car that's on fire or have someone pull you out, but get deep scarring from the broken glass?
     
  5. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #5
    Yet you're alive, and instead of thanking the person for saving your life, you sue the person who helped you out of that car for $500K to $1 million in damages.

    That's really shallow and would cause people to pass you by, letting you blow up in your car.

    Morally and ethically, that is wrong, and goes against just about every story and PSA kids grew up listening to and watching.

    BL.
     
  6. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #6
    I agree. If I were in this situation, I would want to be helped, not left alone.
     
  7. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #7
    wow just sad

    her heart was in the right place
     
  8. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #8
    Just carry a waiver everywhere you go, and make the person sign it before you help.

    Of course, they could claim they were under duress when they signed, so you would want them to get independent legal advice first. But, once they speak to an attorney and sign the waiver, then you can help them out.
     
  9. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #9
    I think, at least, were the standard that one demonstrate that the aid was not in good faith, rather than calling the aid "non-medical," which, I agree with the minority justices, is illogical and counterintuitive, one could preserve the right to pursue such a civil case in truly egregious circumstances, without basically rendering most "good Samaritan" aid potentially open to liability.

    For instance, if they can prove that there was not good faith -- that she did not have reason to believe this woman was in danger where she was, or that she was otherwise explicitly negligent in how she pulled the person out of the car, in a way that other untrained people in the same situation would rarely be -- then... I'm fine with that.

    This, in contrast, is just a bad decision.
     
  10. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #10
    I'd rather be left alone. The car wasn't in danger of catching fire. I'd always been taught to never help an injured person exit a vehicle, or to attempt to exit a vehicle myself if I'm in an accident unless I am in immediate danger.
     
  11. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #11
    I was talking about my example with the car on fire. In the case that applies to the main post (not in any immediate danger), I would want to be left alone.
     
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #12
  13. detz macrumors 65816

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    #13
    You're not supposed to move someone because of neck injuries but the average person doesn't know this.
     
  14. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #14
    If someone is in a motorcycle wreck, you're also not supposed to take their helmet off or even let them take it off.

    My brother was in a bad motorcycle accident 2 months ago with severe head trauma and he could have died if someone had tried to take it off.
     
  15. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #15
    So I decided to read the actual decision, and found out some interesting details:

    1) Both the appellant and respondent were suspected to be high and drunk at the time of the incident (in fact, the driver had crashed into a pole).

    2) There were conflicting reports on whether or not the car was smoking or not (that was the reason the appellant gave for pulling her friend out of the car).

    and

    3) The California Good Samaritan Law reads:

    "No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission. The scene of an emergency shall not include emergency departments and other places where medical care is usually offered."

    The California Supreme Court says that the statute is intended to refer only to medical care, since it is in the Health and Safety Code.

    So the Court isn't specifically saying that you can't have a good samaritan law that shields all good faith help, but that this law was vague and by their reading is limited to medical help.

    Link to the decision
     
  16. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #16
    Sadly this is totally true. It is sickening really.

    Advanced warning. If you are in an accident and I do not stop to help, please don't take it personally. I just don't want to be sued.
     
  17. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #17
    And while I can understand your justification, that is the wrong mindset that the court is imposing on the people with this type of ruling. It is wrong to make someone fearful of being sued that they can't help to save a person's life from actual or imminent danger.

    Good example. Someone is about to commit suicide by hanging themselves. You come in, see it happening, talk them out of it, and in the process of getting them down from the noose, they slip and injure themselves (injury could be from absolutely harmless to breaking an arm). They sue you.

    I seriously would worry about the mindset of the passerby if they saw something imminent like this, and kept walking, because they are afraid that if they help and try to make a difference, they get sued for it.

    BL.
     
  18. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #18
    For me the problem does not lie with no helping someone in need. More so I have no desire to help someone that would turn around and sue me.

    I was being partially sarcastic, however having saved someones life only to get sued by them would be an extremely regretful action.
     
  19. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #19
    That's taking it a bit far.

    The Court was just clarifying a point of law. The Legislature will likely pass a revision to the statute to protect people whenever they render any aid in the coming year.

    There's no reason for theatrics.
     
  20. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #20
    But her brain apparently wasn't, and ignorance is never a legal excuse.

    However, I don't know enough about this case to form an opinion.
     
  21. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #21
    But that is also assuming that she knew the law on this, when in fact most people don't, especially with how its worded in California. It's really obscure, and while is the law, you can't expect someone who is doing something in good faith to know that the good faith gesture they are performing is illegal.

    BL.
     
  22. Prof. macrumors 601

    Prof.

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    #22
    Even if the car was about to explode and she yanked the person from the car I would bet she still would have gotten sued. It's a sad world we live in.:(
     
  23. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #23
    Whether or not she knew the law is irrelevant to the fact that she was drunk, high, and acting against the urging of the other friends there.

    Like I said, expect this to be resolved with a statutory fix in the coming months. The law was vague, the Court interpreted it, and now the Legislature will correct it.
     
  24. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #24
    That would be completely different.

    ...and against the advice of medical professionals. Unless the vehicle cabin is on fire, or you have medical training, you have no business intervening in the situation.

    I see no reason why the defendant should have immunity in this case. We need to be held responsible for our actions, especially when our actions violate professional advice (and common sense).
     
  25. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #25
    In what way was this woman a "Good Samaritan"? There was no reason for her to pull the claimant out of the car. If she feared an explosion, why leave her next to the vehicle? I think a distinction should be and has been drawn between a "Good Samaritan" and an over-excited, careless and incompetent Samaritan.
     

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