Can Being a “Good Samaritan” In Texas Get You Sued?
I remember being taught the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke many times while I was a kid in Sunday School. In that parable, Jesus spoke of the Samaritan who came upon a man who was beaten and robbed and gave him comfort and bandaged his wounds.
With the cynicism of today fresh on so many people's minds, the idea of helping total strangers comes with many caveats. We've all heard stories of someone who tried to help a stranger in distress only to end up in a lawsuit.
Like every other state in the United States, Texas has a Good Samaritan Law. Article 6701d, Vernon's Civil Statutes; Chapter 74, Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 74.001.
If defines the liability for emergency care.
(a) a person who in good faith administers emergency care at the scene of an emergency or in a hospital is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency unless the act is willfully or wantonly negligent.
This does not exclude medical professionals or nurses from liability if they act in their profession. This applies to the average citizen, who attempts to act in good faith or solely out of concern for another human being's safety, not for reward or financial compensation.
Without the Good Samaritan Act, if someone tried to help an injured person at an accident scene and, in so doing, inadvertently made an injury worse, the person rending assistance could be sued.
All bets are off if the person rendering the assistance caused the accident.
Texas has added to the Good Samaritan Act by passing the Jessica Sosa Act. This law protects someone who may possess a small amount of an illegal drug while aiding someone who has overdosed. This protection extends to a person under these specific circumstances.
- They are the first person to call 911 for help for an overdose.
- They stay at the scene until help arrives.
- They cooperate with emergency, medical, and law enforcement personnel.
The law frees people from fear of facing arrest for having a relatively small amount of illegal drugs so that they do not leave someone to die from an illicit overdose. Fatal overdoses have risen by more than 50% in the state. It is believed that this law can lessen fatal overdoses by as much as 15%
It is a testimony to the kind of world we live in that people who legitimately try to render life-saving aid in emergencies have to fear they will be sued. How often have people driven past an emergency, fearing they may pay a huge price if they try to help?
If you believe the parable, Jesus promises rich rewards to those who help others. Timely assistance saves lives.