If you have ever witnessed a car accident in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California while commuting to or from work and stopped your vehicle to come to the rescue of victims, you can proudly call yourself a good Samaritan. Despite having nothing but good intentions, California law does not reward good Samaritans for helping car accident victims. In fact, you might even be held liable for aggravating injuries or causing death to victims.
If, after reading this, you have realized that you will never be stopping your vehicle to help the injured when you witness a car accident, you might be right. Our Los Angeles car accident attorney from Compass Law Group, P.C., warns that there is a very high likelihood that you could get into trouble with the law if you come to the rescue of car accident victims.
California’s good Samaritan law: Is it really that bad?
So yeah, stopping your vehicle to help those in need can be a terrible idea no matter how immoral that might sound. “But why is California’s good Samaritan law so bad?” you may be wondering.
Well, California is not the only state that allows car accident victims to sue those who “help” them – the so-called good Samaritans – for their assistance. Rather, those victims are suing their rescuers not for rendering aid, but for causing or exacerbating their injury. If you help an injured person at the scene of a car accident and your assistance causes or aggravates injuries, you can be held liable for those additional injuries and damages despite the fact that you acted in good faith to help the victim.
Why car accident victims might sue you for helping them
Our car accident lawyer Los Angeles explains that California’s good Samaritan law discourages people from coming to the aid of car crash victims. Unless you are medically trained to render aid at the scene of a car accident and know exactly what you are doing, it is no surprise that your actions might aggravate the victim’s injury simply because you do not know how to give proper medical aid.
As a result, the victim might file a personal injury lawsuit against you to seek compensation for causing or exacerbating their injuries. California’s controversial good Samaritan law takes its roots from 2007, when California lawmakers enacted its own good Samaritan law establishing that only those who render ”emergency medical care” can avoid liability.
However, more than a year after California’s good Samaritan law took effect, lawmakers redefined the 2007 law following a very disturbing car accident. In the car crash, a good Samaritan witnessed the crash and wrongly believed that the car was about to catch fire, which is why she pulled an injured victim away from the vehicle. As a result, the victim suffered subsequent paralysis, which prompted the victim to sue her rescuer for paralysis even though the good Samaritan acted in good faith to help the victim.
Why you will not be held liable under California’s good Samaritan law
After the infamous car accident involving a good Samaritan in 2008, California’s good Samaritan law changed once and for all. In its 2008 ruling, the California Supreme Court upheld that as long as a rescuer renders medical or nonmedical care or assistance at the scene of a car accident and does so in good faith, that person cannot be held liable for injuries or damages resulting from his or her actions.
Therefore, if you are represented by an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles, rendering medical or non-medical aid at the scene of a car crash cannot make you liable for the victim’s injuries.