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How Can Good Samaritan Laws Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

When you sustain an injury because of someone else's actions, you naturally wonder what your options are to recover for your injuries.

Colorado's personal injury laws allow victims to recover from responsible parties in a wide variety of circumstances. However, it's important to understand Colorado's Good Samaritan laws and how they might pertain to your case.

What is Good Samaritan Law?

The purpose of the Good Samaritan Law is to encourage people to offer aid in emergency situations. That is, Colorado lawmakers don't want people to hesitate to offer assistance when it's needed because they're worried about liability.

Often times, there are individuals on the scene of an emergency long before emergency workers arrive. The goal of the law is to allow those individuals to render aid without having to worry about getting sued for their actions.

For the law to apply, the aid must have occurred at the scene of an emergency or accident. The Good Samaritan law is recorded in Colorado statute 13-21-108.

When Does Good Samaritan Law Apply?

Colorado's Good Samaritan laws say that a person at the scene of an emergency may render medical aid without personal injury liability for their actions. So even if a person renders aid in a way that is negligent, the victim or their family cannot bring a case against the person for the results of their negligent behavior.

Let’s walk through an example:

Pat is working with a saw and cuts herself severely in the arm. Kelly sees this occur and rushes to render aid. Kelly helps Pat tie a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. However, Kelly's tourniquet is too loose. Pat looses her arm as a result. In this case, Pat can't bring a case against Kelly for her loss because of the Good Samaritan law.

Legal Exceptions for Gross Negligence

Although the law generally prevents personal injury lawsuits against individuals offering emergency aid, there are a few exceptions.

When a person renders aid that is considered “grossly negligent” or even willfully harmful, a person can still bring a civil action against the aid provider. The purpose of this exception is to make sure that people who choose to provide aid take reasonable care to sure that their efforts do not make the situation worse.

Basically, a person should make sure that they don't cause additional harm either purposefully or recklessly. If they do, the victim can bring a case against them for their damages despite Good Samaritan Law.

Exceptions for Compensated Healthcare Professionals

Another important exception in the law involves health-care professionals that are paid to arrive on the scene and help. That is, if an EMT or other health care professional arrives on scene to provide aid and they expect compensation for their aid, the victim can sue them if they provide negligent care.

In the example above, if Kelly is an EMT who responds to Pat's 911 call, Pat may have grounds to bring a negligence case against Kelly for the losses she sustains because of Kelly's negligent aid. This exception also applies if a victim on the scene happens to be a paying patient of the medical professional who renders aid.

Suing for Underlying Negligence That Causes Severe Injury

While Colorado law prevents people from suing any passersby who renders aid in an emergency, victims can still bring a case against any person who negligently causes your underlying injuries. That is, you can still bring a case against the person whose original actions led to the emergency.

For example, Caden fails to stop at a stop sign. As a result, Caden collides with Jaden, causing Jaden catastrophic injuries. A passerby, Aiden, sees the accident occur. Aiden stops to render emergency aid to Jaden. Aiden applies an article of clothing to a wound in order to slow bleeding, but doesn't apply enough pressure and Jaden bleeds more severely than he might have otherwise. Although Jaden fully recovers, his recovery takes longer and he has more complications than it might have had if Aiden's emergency aid hadn't been negligent.

In this scenario, Good Samaritan law prevents Jaden from bringing a case against Aiden for the negligent aid. However, Aiden's actions don't prevent Jaden from bringing a case against Caden for the damages that resulted from Caden's failure to stop at the stop sign.

An experienced Colorado personal injury attorney can evaluate your case in order to determine your best course of action and the damages that you may be able to recover. Contact the Babcock Law Firm if you have questions and need answers.

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