If you are one of the first people to the scene of an accident or emergency, it may be in your nature to help. Offering assistance and rendering aid to others would make you a “Good Samaritan” – someone who does good deeds without any expectation of getting rewarded for them. In an effort to encourage Good Samaritans, Nebraska and many other states have passed laws protecting these individuals from liability for injuries accidentally caused in a good-faith attempt to help others.
What Is Nebraska’s Good Samaritan Law?
The Good Samaritan Law in Nebraska is found in the Nebraska Revised Statutes (NRS), Section 25-21,186. This law states that no person who renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or another type of emergency gratuitously shall be held liable for civil damages that occur as a result of the act or omissions performed by the person.
The Good Samaritan Law applies to someone who is rendering emergency care or helping others in good faith, including providing for or arranging medical treatment or care for an injured person. The law specifies that it also applies to breaking into a motor vehicle to remove a child, when necessary. “Good faith” means an honest attempt to offer aid to an accident victim.
What Does the Good Samaritan Law Do?
The basis of a Good Samaritan Law is that someone who renders assistance after an accident in an honest attempt to help those in need should not be punished or otherwise face liability for unintentional injuries, harm or property damage inflicted while helping. The purpose of this law is to encourage citizens and the general public to step in and help accident victims who need emergency assistance without fear of being sued later for unintentional harm done.
For example, if a civilian is the first to the scene of a car accident and stops to pull someone out of a burning vehicle, the civilian would not be held liable if the pulling motion exacerbated a spinal cord injury and left the victim permanently paralyzed. Since the Good Samaritan offered assistance in a good-faith attempt to save the victim’s life, the civilian would not be responsible for any unintentional damage caused.
Who Is Protected Under the Good Samaritan Law?
The term “gratuitous” means something that is given free of charge or without an obligation to do so. For this reason, Nebraska’s Good Samaritan Law does not apply to on-duty police officers. Under Section 35-107 of the law, however, volunteer fire department, first aid, rescue and emergency providers are exempt from liability for damages that arise as a result of their actions or omissions while rendering good-faith assistance.
Nebraska also has a Good Samaritan Law for cases involving drug overdoses (NRS 28-472). This rule specifically protects those who request emergency assistance in response to a drug overdose from criminal liability. It states that no evidence obtained when someone calls for medical assistance during a drug overdose shall be admissible in court during a related criminal case against the individual.
Are There Exceptions to the Rule?
There are two main exceptions to Nebraska’s Good Samaritan Law. First, the Good Samaritan cannot have provided assistance for an injury that his or her negligence caused. If a drunk driver causes a car accident, for instance, that driver cannot escape liability for a victim’s injuries just because he or she subsequently helped the victim. Secondly, the Good Samaritan Law will not apply if the person rendering aid behaves recklessly, negligently, or willfully and wantonly and this causes injury to the victim.
How to Be a Good Samaritan
If you are one of the first people to the scene of a car crash or another harmful accident, pull over and render assistance as necessary. This may mean calling 911 to report the accident to the police, cooperating with officials and making a good-faith attempt to provide emergency aid to injured victims. Stay on the phone with emergency personnel until someone arrives to take over. If you wish, you can also offer your services as an eyewitness if you saw the accident take place. This can help a victim recover financial compensation in a personal injury claim.