In this day and age where litigation is a way of life, it’s easy for people to feel reluctant to help out in emergencies. The fear of being held responsible for something is perhaps the leading reason why many would rather not be a Good Samaritan. But this doesn’t have to the case, because there are laws designed to safeguard those who come to the rescue of others out of the goodness of their heart.
The Good Samaritan laws in Nevada aims at ensuring regular people don’t ignore strangers in need. The basis of the law is that, if you act in good faith to help another person who is in peril or injured, you won’t be held liable, should your action results in further harm. Before the law was introduced, it was possible for those who acted in good faith to assist another to suffer civil liability or criminal charges.
Like if you saw someone collapse in a mall, rush to perform a CPR, and manage to stabilize the person, but end up breaking a rib in the process. Without this law, the person could file a legal suit against you for their broken rib, even though you acted in good faith to save their life.
It is the same case as a cocaine user calling emergency services to report a friend’s overdose. Before the Good Samaritan laws, the caller would face arrest for drug-related charges. It’s this fear that hindered people from calling for help in such cases.
Where the law applies
Nevada’s Good Samaritan law doesn’t apply to just any bystander. Generally, it applies to those who have the training to offer gratuitous or emergency care,” like physicians, CPR certificate holders, nurses, dentists, emergency responders, volunteer dispatches, dentists, volunteer members of search and rescue group. But the bystanders without training should still assist whenever safe to do so – they can call 911 or provide help in other non-medical ways.
Exception for intentional harm or gross negligence
From face value, the law seems like a win-win scenario, where the injured are helped, and the helping party doesn’t need to worry about their actions having negative consequences – but it’s not that white and black. Although you are protected from legal liability if you render help, you cannot be grossly negligent or cause intentional harm. Gross negligence means acting with reckless or deliberate misconduct. So, you cannot make obvious mistakes when you provide emergency care. Doing something that’s evidently wrong when administering care can open you up to legal liabilities.
Additionally, the Good Samaritan law only applies when there is an emergency present – so, when you help someone when there is no emergency, you may be held liable for giving aid negligently. The same applies to when an emergency happens after you try to help.
Calling an attorney
The Good Samaritan laws won’t apply if you have professional duty to offer help – you need to be a bystander who helps without pay. The law doesn’t make it mandatory to provide help in an emergency. Instead, it protects those who do so from liability. But since each case is different, you may want to talk to a personal injury attorney about your specific situation.