Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Samaritan Laws: This Is How Immunity Is Supposed To Work

Talk about a strange way to start the work week. Today I left a business meeting at 9:00 a.m., only to look across the street of a busy road to elderly man lying in his driveway underneath the right front tire of his car. Apparently it rolled down his inclined driveway and ran over him. He was wedged dangerously underneath it and couldn't move. So I called 911 and in the time it took to make the call, 2 motorists had stopped and were trying to move him or the car out of the way.

I ran over to assist, and shortly after that 5 more people had stopped. One man grabbed a jack and was trying to jack up the car so we could move the man out of the way. Finally all 7 of us decided we would try to lift the car while another man pulled him out. It worked. The paramedics arrived and transported him to the hospital.

I've often heard that our "litigious society" deters people from being good samaritans because of a fear of being sued. This is a load of bull. This myth did not stop about 8 people from dropping everything and helping this man. I'm sure nobody even gave a thought to not stopping and helping.

Secondly, Ohio's Good Samaritan law protects those lending assistance from liability unless their conduct is considered "reckless," which is virtually impossible to prove, and for good reason.

Good Samaritan laws serve a useful purpose in society; they are an example of "deserved immunity" for doing the right thing. Compare that to other "immunity" laws that only serve to protect entities like school districts even when they negligently allow convicted child molesters access to elementary school children. This is an example of "undeserved immunity" for doing the wrong thing--dropping the ball--and it is wrong.

So don't ever be afraid to lend assistance in a situation like this. The law will protect you for doing the right thing.

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