No one anticipates witnessing a car accident. If you do see a collision happen or are one of the first people to the scene and intervene to render aid, you are what Texas considers a Good Samaritan. Texas law protects its Good Samaritans by exempting them from liability for injuries unintentionally inflicted while offering assistance at the scene of emergencies, such as car accidents. The Good Samaritan law in Texas has some boundaries and exceptions, however.
The Texas Good Samaritan Act
In Texas, the Good Samaritan Act is an important law that protects people who render aid in a good faith attempt to help others. The act specifically states that if a person administers care in good faith at the scene of an emergency, that person will not bear liability for any damages he or she causes while administering said care. In other words, someone with personal injuries or property damages because of a Good Samaritan’s good-faith actions in an emergency will not be able to file a lawsuit against the Good Samaritan.
Lawmakers in Texas and many other states passed Good Samaritan laws to encourage people to act if they are in a position to help others in emergencies. These laws came about because many people were hesitant to intervene in emergencies out of a fear that the victim would sue should something go wrong. If a Good Samaritan accidentally twisted a car accident victim’s spine the wrong way while removing the victim from a burning car and caused a permanent spinal cord injury, for example, that victim could sue the Good Samaritan were it not for Texas’s related liability law.
Texas’s Good Samaritan Act encourages action in the face of emergencies by protecting those who step in to help from liability for damages. Even if someone helping out in good faith injures the person he or she is trying to help, the Good Samaritan will not have to pay for that person’s damages. It is important to note, however, that Texas’s Good Samaritan law has some exceptions, limitations and boundaries.
Exceptions to the Good Samaritan Law
Lawmakers have revised the Texas Good Samaritan Act many times since it originally passed. They have added several exceptions to the general rule. If an exception applies to a case, the Good Samaritan could still face liability – or legal responsibility – for the victim’s injuries or damages. A Good Samaritan in Texas may not be exempt from liability in certain situations.
- He/she acted with willful negligence or wanton disregard for the safety of others.
- He/she was a licensed nurse, doctor or emergency services technician.
- He/she expected payment or other remuneration for administering care.
- He/she was at the scene of the accident to solicit business, such as for a doctor or law firm.
- He/she is the person responsible for putting the victim in harm’s way in the first place.
The main exception to the rule is if the Good Samaritan acted with willful or wanton negligence in rendering aid. This is a higher burden of proof than general negligence. To override Texas’s Good Samaritan Act and bring a lawsuit against someone who renders aid, a plaintiff must prove that the person acted with a willful, intentional or wanton disregard for others’ safety. This determination will depend on the circumstances surrounding the case.
When to Speak to an Attorney
Whether you are the injured victim or the Good Samaritan, you could benefit from hiring an attorney for help with a complicated accident case. Texas’s Good Samaritan Act and its numerous exceptions can be difficult to navigate on your own. Discuss your accident case with a personal injury attorney near you for advice you can trust. Your lawyer can help you overcome any legal challenges you may face due to the Good Samaritan Law.