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Author Topic: Is being a good samaritan worth it?  (Read 674 times)

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Offline ZByteTopic starter

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Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« on: December 21, 2008, 05:48:00 PM »
http://overlawyered.com/2007/03/california-good-samaritan-out-of-luck/

When I came across this interesting little tidbit, I was a bit appalled at how far the human race has sunk as a whole.  I'll give you the skinny if you don't want to click on any external linkage.  A woman drives into a street pole at 45 miles-an-hour and is stuck inside of a car.  Another woman, who was driving behind her, stops and pulls her free from the wreckage.  She is then promptly sued by the victim.

It turns out the woman became a paraplegic, though whether or not it was because of the accident or the subsequent rescue is a matter of legal debate.  The courts are in favor of the idea that the rescuer should have called 911 without attempting to extract the victim, as the car wasn't on fire nor was there any other 'medical' basis for her to be moved.  Granted, it was reckless, but it's rare to see someone who is in their right frame of mind after just witnessing something as violent as a 45mph crash.

Well meaning individuals may be at risk for lawsuits now, and a lot of people are going to take the technical aspects of this out of context.  Instead of seeing the medically relevant knowledge of not moving an accident victim unless you have to, they'll just see that someone who was saved is able to sue the person saving them for whatever happened to them during the accident if they can.  Kinda scary, but I always knew that lawyers would be the death of humanity aspect of humans.

I would have posted this in the politics/religion debate forum, but really it's not a question of who's right or wrong, so it didn't feel right.  Besides, this concerns law and justice, which politics and religion tend to avoid.

In any case, what do you think about all this, <SUBJECT NAME HERE>?

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2008, 05:58:42 PM »
Unfortunately its entirely possible that pulling the woman out of the car did worsen her injuries. I recently did a first aid course, and we touched on stuff like this. If the car appeared to be stable, and the woman wasn't in any immediate danger, then she should have been left to the professionals. Calling an ambulance would have been sufficient help.

If the womans life was in danger .. say the car was on fire or what have you .. then moving her is the least bad option.

I know that probably sounds harsh, and I don't agree with sueing someone who was genuinely trying to help, but if you don't know what you're doing in a situation you may well make it worse.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2008, 06:07:33 PM »
Granted that the move of the accident victim was a bad idea (as the story pointed out, the victim was in no immediate danger, and the movement of victims of accidents that potentially inflicted injuries to the brain or spine is best left to professionals).  However, the legal system is big, slow and stupid.  Now that the possibility of suing good samaritans has been established, it's a virtual certainty the impact will spread far beyond all rational bounds and ensnare people who try to do good but suffer from bad luck rather than poor judgment.

Online Oniya

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Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2008, 08:52:12 PM »
Way back when I took CPR in high school, we were taught that there were laws protecting 'good samaritans', and that you could actually be in trouble if you knew how to give medical aid and failed to do so.

EDIT:  Slight correction. 

Quote
Good Samaritan provisions are not universal in application. The legal principle of imminent peril may also apply.  In the absence of imminent peril, the actions of a rescuer may be perceived by the courts to be reckless and not worthy of protection. To illustrate, a motor vehicle collision occurs, but there is no fire, no immediate life threat from injuries and no danger of a second collision. If a 'good Samaritan' elects to 'rescue' the victim from the wreckage, causing paralysis or some other injury, a court may rule that good Samaritan laws do not apply because the victim was not in imminent peril and hold the actions of the rescuer as 'reckless' and unnecessary.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2008, 08:54:00 PM by Oniya »

Offline Avi

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Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2008, 08:55:48 PM »
Way back when I took CPR in high school, we were taught that there were laws protecting 'good samaritans', and that you could actually be in trouble if you knew how to give medical aid and failed to do so.

EDIT:  Slight correction. 


Same here, but we were also taught that, if possible, we should obtain permission from the victim before rendering aid.  At the time, I thought it was just to reassure them, but now I can see that it is to avoid getting sued into the next year.

Offline magnamos

Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2008, 04:41:48 AM »
This is totally messed. Wow.... I'm kinda happy to live in germany. There is a law that forces you to do first aid when you're at an accident site or find a person in need of medical attention.
My first aid trainer said, I asked her if it's wise to give first aid if you forgot how to probably do it, that wrong help is still better than no help. Even if you break every rip in a false attempt of reanimation, you still did first aid and probably saved a persons life. Note that a broken rip is not as bad as beein without fresh oxygen for a few minutes. Especially the brain enjoys it's fresh oxygen and is thankfull for every load you can deliver if the lungs are out of the job. We were taught to ALWAYS remove a person from the wreckage and get it into recovery position. If you leave the person in an uncomfortable position and it threws up for example, it will suffocate on it's own... well... nevermind (ewwwww!!!) There are only a few exception. If the person got it's neckbones damaged and moving the body would result in damaging important nerves and if the person is impaled moving is forbidden.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2008, 06:40:13 AM »
The problem is, you don't know the extent of the persons injuries in that accident. Its quite possible that by moving them you will make the situation worse. Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing more than calling the accident in, and providing as much detail as possible.

Offline magnamos

Re: Is being a good samaritan worth it?
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2008, 08:15:11 AM »
I think the time the ambulance needs to arrive is another factor. In big citties in America it will take quiet some time I guess. Here it's like 10-15 Minutes. If a person doesn't last that amount of time there wasn't a real chance of survival to beginn with anyway.