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How Good Samaritan Laws Work

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Author's Note: How Good Samaritan Laws Work

This is a really thought-provoking topic. Most of us likely are in favor of helping someone who is injured, sick or in trouble. And the majority of us would likely do so with only the best of intentions. But if we were injured, and someone trying to help us actually caused further harm, how would we react? Would we be charitable toward our rescuer and forgive him, or would we turn on the person and sue?

I'd sure like to think I'd never sue someone who tried to help me, even if the result was something devastating like Alexandra Van Horn's paralysis. Far better to err on the side of helping — being a caring human being — than ignoring someone in distress because we fear for ourselves. But would I think differently if I were a single parent with limited resources? How would I weigh the risks of messing up a rescue and possibly being sued and financially ruined — which would have a devastating impact on my kids — with helping another human? Would I even ponder any of this if I came upon someone who was hurt, or would basic human instincts toward charity kick in?

Looking at this dispassionately, I'm weighing in decisively for helping those in distress. But I totally realize that it's not possible to be dispassionate if you're one of the people involved in a Good Samaritan incident gone awry.

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Sources

  • American Tort Reform Association. "CA Reforms." (Nov. 8, 2016) http://www.atra.org/legislation/CA
  • Christian Bible Reference Site. "The Good Samaritan." (Nov. 7, 2016) http://www.christianbiblereference.org/story_GoodSamaritan.htm
  • Courthouse News. "In The Supreme Court Of California." Dec. 18, 2008. (Nov. 8, 2016) http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/08/13/watsonhorn.pdf
  • CPR Instructor. "Vermont Good Samaritan Act." (Nov. 7, 2016) http://www.cprinstructor.com/VT-GS.htm
  • Crowe, Earl. "What Is the Good Samaritan Law? – Definition, History & Cases." Study. (Nov. 4, 2016) http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-good-samaritan-law-definition-history-cases.html
  • Drug Policy Alliance. "Which States Have 911 Good Samaritan Laws and/or Naloxone Access Laws?" Jan. 25, 2016. (Nov. 7, 2016) http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/which-states-have-911-good-samaritan-laws-andor-naloxone-access-laws
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  • Lee, Tiffany. "The Good Samaritan in Law and Practice." Dec. 17, 2015. (Nov. 8, 2016) http://www.epijournal.com/articles/242/the-good-samaritan-in-law-and-practice
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  • United States Government Publishing Office. "Public Law 104-210—Oct. 1, 1996." Oct. 1, 1996. (Nov. 10, 2016) https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ210/pdf/PLAW-104publ210.pdf
  • Weinstein, Susan. "Commentary: Naloxone Access and Good Samaritan Overdose Protection Laws Abound in State Legislatures." Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. June 24, 2015. (Nov. 9, 2016) http://www.drugfree.org/news-service/commentary-naloxone-access-good-samaritan-overdose-protection-laws-abound-state-legislatures/
  • Worthen, Meredith. "Kitty Genovese Biography." Biography. April 5, 2016. (Nov. 7, 2016) http://www.biography.com/people/kitty-genovese-120415

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