Are good samaritans liable for injuries they cause?

Published 26 Jul 2018

When you see someone in distress or injured, your first reaction may be to try and help. While good samaritans take these actions all the time, it can be hard to navigate what happens when an individual who is trying to help cause an injury. Are they then liable for that injury when they had good intentions?

What is a good samaritan?

According to the Civil Liability Act, a good samaritan is a person who, "in good faith and without expectation of payment or other reward, comes to the assistance of a person who is apparently injured or at risk of being injured." For example, a good samaritan could take action to help someone up who has fallen, come to the assistance of a biker who has had a crash, or interfere in a physical fight that has the potential to end in injury.

In an emergency, a good samaritan is often the person who calls an ambulance or assists with on-the-spot treatment like CPR. Good samaritans do everything they can to deal with an emergency, even if the outcome is not helpful or causes more damage or injury.

Legislation

Current legislation holds that a good samaritan is protected from incurring personal liability for any act or omission made by them in an emergency situation when assisting an injured person or a person at risk of being injured. However, if the injury that the good samaritan is assisting with was caused by the good samaritan, then they are excluded from this protection. Additionally, the protection does not cover a good samaritan whose ability to assist with the injury was impaired by the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if the good samaritan failed to exercise reasonable care in the act or omission.

The protection does not cover anyone who is a health care or medical emergency services worker or police officer. Also, if the good samaritan falsely represents that they have qualifications to render assistance or treatment, the protection does not apply.

You may be entitled to public liability compensation. If you have questions about your protections as a good samaritan under the Civil Liability Act, or have questions about public liability claims in general, contact us today at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers. Our team of experienced compensation lawyers is available for free consultations.