Good Samaritan Laws – Laws that protect you if you get involved
Getting Involved in Rendering First Aid
Florida Statute §768.13 is known as the Good Samaritan Act. Under Florida law, unless you caused the harm, there is no duty to act to help another who has been the victim of an accident or intentional harm. The Good Samaritan Act was written to protect those who choose to take action to aid others. The Good Samaritan Act allows those who act reasonably in helping in an emergency that occurs outside of a facility with proper medical equipment to avoid liability where the victim does not refuse treatment. The act protects both those with and those without medical training or licenses as long as the person providing help acts reasonably. Portions of the act that apply to the situation of assisting a person after shooting are below:
- Any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations related to and arising out of a public health emergency declared pursuant to s. 381.00315, a state of emergency which has been declared pursuant to s. 252.36 or at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment, without objection of the injured victim or victims thereof, shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.
- The immunity provided by this paragraph applies to damages as a result of any act or omission of providing medical care or treatment, including diagnosis:
- Which occurs prior to the time the patient is stabilized and is capable of receiving medical treatment as a nonemergency patient, unless surgery is required as a result of the emergency within a reasonable time after the patient is stabilized, in which case the immunity provided by this paragraph applies to any act or omission of providing medical care or treatment which occurs prior to the stabilization of the patient following the surgery.
- Which is related to the original medical emergency.
In the introductory paragraph, we noted that in general there is no duty to assist another who is the victim of either an accident or intentional harm. There are however several “special relationships” that create an obligation to assist. The relationships include, but are not limited to:
If you wish to learn more about the Good Samaritan Act and the protection it provides for both medical professionals and non-medical professionals, please read The Good Samaritan Act and Protection From Liability by our good friend, attorney George Indest III of The Health Law Firm.
Getting Involved to Stop a Shooting (self-defense, defense of others)
Additional protections (accidentally injuring another during self-defense or defense of another)
Florida Statutory law does not address the situation where you acted properly in defense of yourself or another and a third party is accidentally injured. However, the courts have extended protection to those who lawfully and with proper care defend themselves or others, accidentally hurting a bystander. The following cases are often cited in such a case to excuse or provide a justification for a criminal charge.
Brown v. State, 84 Fla. 660, 94 So.874, 874 (1922) (“If the killing of the party intended to be killed would, under all the circumstances, have been excusable or justifiable homicide upon the theory of self-defense, then the unintended killing of a bystander, by a random shot fired in the proper and prudent exercise of such self-defense, is also excusable or justifiable.”), Nelson v. State, 853 So.2d 563, 565 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) (agreeing Nelson “should have been entitled to transfer his theory of self-defense to defend against the transferred intent crime”), and V.M. v. State, 766 So.2d 280, 281 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) (“Where self-defense is a viable defense to the charge of battery on an intended victim, the defense also operates to excuse the battery on the unintended victim.”)