“Good Samaritan” is a legal term that refers to a person who stops to help another person experiencing an emergency. That could mean a person who stays on the road after witnessing a car crash to pull a victim out of a wrecked car or stopping to call 911 for help. Each state has its own rules regarding Good Samaritans, focusing on whether well-intentioned bystanders should offer aid, and whether they should have protection from liability in a resulting lawsuit. For a clearer understanding, the following article details examples of Texas’ Good Samaritan law in action.
Texas’ Good Samaritan Act is defined under Civil Practice and Remedies Code Statute 74.151. It protects those who help in good faith at an emergency scene or hospital, so they’re not held civilly liable for any damages that such care may have unintentionally caused. However, if the act was willfully or wantonly negligent, the protections that this law offers are null. In layman’s terms, that means any person who stops to help at an emergency scene can’t be sued afterward unless their actions intentionally harmed someone or such actions were grossly negligent. This law protects ordinary citizens who act out of compassion and generosity to help individuals hurting in an emergency.
Exceptions to Texas’ Good Samaritan Law
According to the Texas Department of State Health, there are a few special exceptions to the Good Samaritan Act that include:
- Acts that are willfully or wantonly negligent
- Care provided with an expectation of compensation
- Care provided at an emergency scene because a person was soliciting business
- Care provided by a physician or a person who works in a hospital or emergency room
- A treating physician of a patient with a healthcare liability claim
In short, the Texas Good Samaritan Act excludes those who administer care at an emergency scene if:
- They caused the accident
- They’re looking for financial reimbursement
- They’re a medical professional
- They work at a hospital or medical facility.
To better understand how Texas’ Good Samaritan law works, consider the following examples:
A man fishing at the Sheldon Lake State Park witnesses another man faint in the hot Texas sun. The man who had been fishing rushes over to provide CPR so the unconscious man can breathe properly again. He then provides a water bottle and an ice-cold cloth to cool the man’s body temperature. Together, they go to a shaded area of the park. The man who fainted starts to feel better and offers his thanks, then goes on his way. Later, however, the man who fainted sues the other man, claiming his chest was compressed and damaged when CPR was administered. Under the Texas Good Samaritan Act, the man who offered CPR will be protected because he acted out of compassion, not ill will.
A severe car crash on the Southwest Freeway results in a car catching fire and burning with victims trapped inside. A witness pulls over to try and help the accident victims escape the burning vehicle before emergency help has arrived. In the process of removing the accident victim out of the car, the victim’s shoulder is dislocated. Because the witness acted out of compassion with a desire to help the trapped car accident victim, the witness would be protected from a lawsuit under the Texas Good Samaritan Act.
A driver calls a tow truck company after a car accident to haul their damaged vehicle to the auto body shop for repairs. On the way to the auto body shop, the car is further damaged. As a result, the driver sues the tow truck company along with the driver. Because the driver and company acted in a business capacity and expected to be financially compensated for their services, the Texas Good Samaritan Act would not protect them from the lawsuit.
Texas’ Good Samaritan law provides further protections that relate to unlicensed medical personnel. These protections include:
- Unlicensed medical staff who are not licensed or certified in the healing arts who in good faith administer emergency care
- Individuals who use an automated external defibrillator in an emergency to check and restore a person’s heart rhythm during a life-threatening condition or cardiac arrest
If you were injured in a car accident and someone offered assistance, but you believe they acted with willful or wanton negligence, you may have a viable injury claim under the Texas Good Samaritan Act. For further information on the protections provided by Texas’ Good Samaritan law, the personal injury attorneys at Sutliff & Stout are here to help.
Sutliff & Stout attorneys are committed to helping people in Houston who have been injured by others’ negligence. Our attorneys are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, an accomplishment that less than 7% of Texas lawyers can claim. To speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today, complete an online contact form or call our office at (713) 987-7111. We are happy to review your case for free.