You are traveling on South Sheridan Boulevard in Denver when you come upon a car accident. You arrive before any responders. There appears to be someone on the road unconscious and not moving. Should you stop and render aid? Some people are reluctant to get involved because of concern about legal liability. These issues are addressed by the Colorado Good Samaritan Act.
Who Is Protected by the Good Samaritan Law?
Colorado’s Good Samaritan Law protects people from legal liability if they act in an emergency situation to give aid to a person who is injured. The law is intended to encourage people to offer emergency aid without being worried about being sued.
Physicians and Surgeons
The Colorado Good Samaritan Act specifically mentions people who have medical training because they are most qualified to provide treatment in the chaotic moments after a crash. This group includes licensed doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals. Due to the knowledge and experience that medical professionals have, it is expected that they will render medical help if necessary in emergency situations.
However, medical professionals may be reluctant to provide medical services outside a hospital or doctor’s office because the care they provide is required to meet certain standards. According to the Good Samaritan Act, doctors and other medical personnel who offer emergency services in good faith at the scene of an accident without expectation of payment cannot be held liable if their actions or inactions made the injury worse.
For the law to apply, the health care provider would need to render the emergency services at the scene and without an expectation of being paid. The types of acts covered by the laws include first aid, medical services, rescue procedures and transportation. Doctors can only be liable if their actions were grossly negligent while rendering the emergency services.
The Good Samaritan Law does not apply to paid first responders who arrive the scene of an accident as part of their job and provide medical care or rescue services with the expectation of being paid. If a paramedic arrives on the scene and renders aid with the expectation of being paid, the accident victim may have a legal basis to sue if the paramedic provided negligent care.
Volunteer Member of a Rescue Unit
However, the Colorado Good Samaritan Act also shields volunteer members of a rescue unit from liability when they provide aid in good faith. Rescue units are non-profit outfits contracted by the state to render emergency services. These rescue units might get funds from the state in order to cover their expenses.
However, the volunteer members do not get compensation for their services. This means that they fall under the category of people the law protects for rendering emergency services at the scene of an accident. Volunteer members of rescue units cannot be sued for the acts or omissions they carry out in rendering emergency services to injured people.
Members of a Ski Patrol
Ski patrols render rescue services in the snowy areas of Colorado. A lot of the volunteer members of these ski patrols are doctors, physicians, surgeons and other medical personnel.
Volunteer members of ski patrols, including medical personnel, are covered by the Good Samaritan Act. For the Good Samaritan Act to apply to members of a ski patrol, they should have rendered emergency services without compensation.
Volunteer members of ski patrols may receive free ski privileges or other benefits for being on the ski patrol. However, these do not count as compensation for any emergency services they render.
Non-Profit Hotline Responders
The Colorado Good Samaritan Act also applies to volunteers who handle the hotline of non-profit organizations. These are organizations that respond to calls on how to handle emergency situations.
If a person has an accident and calls one of these non-profit hotlines, the person cannot sue the volunteer responder for unexpected actions that arise from their counsel or discussion during a crisis or emergency situation.
The Colorado Good Samaritan Act applies in situations in which a non-profit gets grants and other types of funding to enable them to effectively run the non-profit.
An employer may be liable for negligent actions that their employees commit in the course of performing their job. For example, if a company driver, on the way to deliver goods for an employer causes an accident and injures someone else, the driver’s employer may be liable for the costs associated with the accident.
However, an employer shall not be liable if an employee renders emergency care in the course of his or her job and the employee is exempt from liability, according to the Colorado Good Samaritan Act.
Should Ordinary Citizens Render Emergency Services?
The Colorado Good Samaritan Act also applies to ordinary citizens who are not licensed health care providers. A regular individual may render emergency services without fear of legal repercussions if things don’t go according to plan. But there are many ways to render aid beyond performed CPR.
If you do not have training in giving first aid, the best thing you can do may be to call for emergency assistance, provide as much information as possible to the emergency dispatcher about the accident victims’ injuries and wait for the first responders to arrive.
Speak to an Experienced Colorado Personal Injury Attorney
If you have questions about whether you have a right to seek compensation for injuries sustained in an automobile accident caused by someone’s careless or reckless decisions, you should consult experienced legal counsel. The Sawaya Law Firm, based in Denver, is here to help personal injury victims in Colorado. Our law firm offers free, confidential case reviews that can be conducted in our office. During the consultation, a lawyer with our firm will go over the facts of the collision and provide an assessment of your legal options. Call (720) 709-2802 to speak with one of our attorneys.