Texas, like many other states, offers certain legal protections to individuals who provide emergency medical assistance. These laws shield well-intentioned citizens from liability, as long as their actions were in good faith. It creates an incentive for citizens to help one another in times of emergency.
In a legal sense, a “Good Samaritan” is someone who renders aid to another. Usually, this term applies to individuals or “regular citizens.” A common example of this would be providing aid in a motor vehicle crash. If you performed CPR on an individual after a crash and broke several of their ribs, Texas’ Good Samaritan laws would shield you from liability.
The legal premise of this law is that if an individual provides voluntary medical assistance in an emergency, he or she cannot be civilly liable for damages that might incur as a result. Texas law recognizes that average civilians don’t possess medical expertise, so they may act differently than a competent medical professional.
The Texas Good Samaritan Statute states that a person who is trying to help someone by administering aid during an emergency won’t be liable for civil damages unless they hurt the victim willfully or were extremely negligent. This means, of course, that there are exceptions to the rule.
Exceptions to the Good Samaritan Law
There are several exclusions to the Good Samaritan law. These include:
Conduct That Was Willful or “Wanton”
Good Samaritan protection does not apply to those who render aid in a willfully negligent way. This can be difficult to prove and requires and in-depth investigation into the case.
Expectation of Remuneration
The second exception is called “expectation of remuneration.” In layman’s terms, this means that the person rendering aid was expecting to be paid for the services. For example, if a physician provides care after an injured person promises compensation, the doctor would not have protection under Good Samaritan laws. Another example of this exception would be someone soliciting business at the scene of the emergency.
Physicians rendering care in an emergency department might be liable for injuries if they deviate from an established standard of care. Proving this requires that the victim provides enough evidence that it was “more likely than not” that the provider committed negligence.
Cause of Harm
Lastly, you’re not protected under Texas Good Samaritan Law if you’re the legal cause of the harm. For example, if you caused a car accident that seriously injured another, you’re not recused from liability, even if you provide adequate emergency medical care.
Why Do We Have a Good Samaritan Law?
Good Samaritan laws are a simple matter of public safety. The state of Texas values human life and wants bystanders to provide assistance whenever possible. The last thing the government wants is to discourage able bystanders from providing care in emergency situations because they fear retribution in the form of a lawsuit. Good Samaritan laws offer essential protections to citizens who simply want to help. As of now, Good Samaritan laws apply to virtually everyone, aside from the exceptions noted above.