Good Samaritan law

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Good Samaritan laws are laws or acts protecting those who choose to serve and tend to others who are injured or ill. They are intended to reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist, for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death. In Canada, a good Samaritan doctrine is a legal principle that prevents a rescuer who has voluntarily helped a victim in distress from being successfully sued for 'wrongdoing'. Its purpose is to keep people from being reluctant to help a stranger in need for fear of legal repercussions should they make some mistake in treatment.[1] Good Samaritan laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, as do their interactions with various other legal principles, such as consent, parental rights and the right to refuse treatment. Such laws generally do not apply to medical professionals' or career emergency responders' on-the-job conduct, but some extend protection to professional rescuers when they are acting in a volunteer capacity.

The principles contained in good Samaritan laws more typically operate in countries in which the foundation of the legal system is English Common Law, such as Australia.[2] In many countries that use civil law as the foundation for their legal systems, the same legal effect is more typically achieved using a principle of duty to rescue.

Good Samaritan laws take their name from a parable told by Jesus commonly referred to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan which is contained in Luke 10:25-37. It recounts the aid given by one traveler (from the area known as Samaria) to another traveler of a different religious and ethnic background who had been beaten and robbed by bandits.[3]


United States

The details of good Samaritan laws/acts in various jurisdictions vary, including who is protected from liability and in what circumstances.[4] Not all jurisdictions provide protection to laypersons, in those cases only protecting trained personnel, such as doctors or nurses.[5]

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