In most states, people are not obligated to come to the aid of someone who is in trouble or experiencing an emergency. For example, if you pass an accident on the highway, you are under no legal obligation to stop and offer assistance. If you decide to stop, you are held liable for your actions under the Good Samaritan Rule. This rule is enforced in all 50 states. Here is what it says.
If you decide to stop and render first aid or other medical aid to someone in distress, you must do so in a way that does not further endanger the person you are helping.
Let’s use the example in the beginning of this article. You do decide to stop and render aid at the scene of an accident. You see that both vehicles have suffered severe damage and that one driver is trapped inside their car. If there is no further immediate danger to the crash victim and you decide to pull them through the window of their car, causing permanent spinal cord problems, you could be held civilly liable for their injuries. If, on the other hand, you pull the victim from the car because it is on fire and they suffer further injury, you would be protected under the rule.
The Good Samaritan Rule does not apply to doctors, nurses or other medical professionals. This is to say medical professionals who are on duty. If an off-duty professional stops in a similar situation and renders aid, they are held liable under the rule. If, though, they happen upon a person who they have already established a doctor-patient relationship with, the rule does not take the place of medical malpractice law.
Because the Good Samaritan Rule and medical malpractice can be intricate and may overlap one another, it is advised to seek a consultation with an attorney if you have been harmed by a medical professional on the scene of an accident or during some type of emergency.
If you believe that you may have a case against a medical professional in Charleston, reach out to our team of experienced attorneys. We will help you set up an appointment for a free case evaluation where we will advise you of the options available to you and your family.