California Law Protects Good Samaritans from Lawsuits

A Good Samaritan who accidentally injures a person while trying to provide voluntary aid will not be protected from lawsuits by the injured party. Last week, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 83, which is intended to encourage Good Samaritans to provide aid and rescue in emergency situations.

“Now Good Samaritans have no reason to hesitate to responsibly help someone in an emergency out of fear that they might be sued,” Assemblyman Mike Feuer said. “This legislation encourages Californians to look out for each other at a time when public resources are all too scarce.”

The new law reverses a recent California Supreme Court decisions (Van Horn v. Watson) which held that the state’s existing Good Samaritan law only provided partial protection from lawsuits for negligence when a volunteer provides assistance to a person in peril. The cases found that a Good Samaritan who injures someone while providing non-medical care could be held liable for damages.

The new law also received support from both plaintiff and defense attorney associations.

“This bill strikes an important balance between the human desire to help people who are in distress, and the rights of victims. Consumer attorneys are delighted to join police, firefighters, paramedics and insurance and business groups in endorsing this measure,” said Christine Spagnoli, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Source: California Chronicle

The injury law firm of Walton Barber LLP represents individuals and families throughout Southern California who have been impacted by negligence related car accidents, defective products, food poisoning, spinal and brain injuries, construction accidents, dog bites, and other personal injury cases.

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