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Guide to Understanding Florida's Good Samaritan Laws

Guide to Understanding Florida’s Good Samaritan Laws

When catastrophic accidents happen, there are several instances where rapid emergency action must take place to help victims that have been seriously injured. It is possible in certain situations that a victim may only have minutes to be cared for. Without proper attention, a badly injured individual could lose their life. This is why it is the common belief that if there are bystanders to an accident that can help those affected in some way, the bystanders should.

In such a litigious world, there is hesitation among some people that if they render aid to another party and something goes wrong, they could be held legally responsible for the resulting harm. Because of this, even when a person may have the ability to help, they may instead decide to shy away from doing so. 

As a result, essentially every state in the United States has its own laws related to legal protections for caregivers. Florida is no different and has its own established guidelines and immunity from civil liability for caregivers. The Good Samaritan Act in Florida safeguards a caregiver who is treating a victim in good faith when an emergency arises. 

Serious injuries can result from many situations with traffic accidents being a leading reason for major injuries and death. Florida car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, for example, happen with quite a high frequency. Florida commonly is listed as one of the top three states with the most deadly car accidents that happen in the country. In fact, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that in 2021 there were 400,431 crashes throughout the state. These accidents resulted in the loss of life for 3,707 individuals.

If you have been in a Florida car accident, you may be able to secure compensation by filing a claim against the party who caused the incident that harmed you. The Jacksonville car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Sheftall & Associates can help you seek the justice you deserve.

Does the Good Samaritan Law in Florida Cover Everyone?

Guide to Understanding Florida's Good Samaritan LawsEven though it would seem that Florida’s good samaritan laws should offer coverage to anyone who provides first aid to another injured party, this is not technically the case. Only individuals that are acting in good faith, or sincerely engaging in certain actions without the intent to deceive may be covered. In addition to acting in good faith, individuals that come to help another should also be doing so with due care or acting in a reasonable way that anyone else in the same situation would likely also have done.

The good samaritan doctrine applies to all bystanders not only to medical professionals. If a bystander can help a victim and is inclined to do so but does not have professional training, they can still take action and be protected under the law. This is, of course, if their actions were in good faith and with due care. If a good samaritan responds to an emergency situation but behaves in a manner deemed to be below the reasonable standard of care, then they may lose their protection from civil liability for resulting damages to the victim.

Even though the good samaritan law exists to protect those willing to help in emergency situations, Florida tort laws do not compel or require bystanders to help a victim. Meaning, if you witness an accident it is not unlawful for you to decide not to intervene and assist. That is unless you have a specific relationship with a victim. Then in these instances, you would be required by law to take action. Some examples of relationships that require action when an injury incident takes place include:

  • Parents to their children
  • Doctors and medical professionals to their patients
  • Business owners to their customers

If any of these relationships exist and the designated caregiver does not help or behaves in a reckless way that causes harm to the injured party, they will not be protected under Florida’s good samaritan laws.

Understanding the laws in relation to personal injury and wrongful death accidents can be confusing. Knowing your rights in an emergency situation, whether you are a bystander to an incident or if you are a victim who suffered harm is important. The Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys at The Law Offices of Sheftall & Associates can evaluate your accident experience and advise you on your best options for taking legal action.

Do Florida Good Samaritan Laws Apply to Drug Overdoses?

One can understand the hesitancy that may arise for someone to take action if an emergency comes about from something that is illegal. Doing illicit drugs that are against the law can come with serious life implications, costly fines, and criminal penalties if caught. For tragic instances that happen all too often where one party overdoses and could lose their life, others near them may be reluctant to call first responders for assistance.

In Florida, the preservation of life is of the utmost importance and takes precedence. When a potential drug overdose could occur, those involved may be protected from arrest, criminal charges, and other penalties associated with illegal drug use if they help with good faith and due care. This means that these individuals will not be criminally or civilly liable for taking reasonable actions to immediately assist a person who may possibly overdose, including calling first responders to come to the scene.

Speak to a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Today

After an accident dealing with the devastating aftermath can feel overwhelming and you may not be sure what to do.  However, if you were injured or if a loved one suffered harm, there are ways to get a greater understanding of how you can respond to recoup your losses. Speaking with an experienced legal professional is one of them.

Consider connecting with the seasoned Jacksonville personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Sheftall & Associates. You can discuss your accident experience with one of the talented attorneys during a free consultation and explore what options are available to you to remedy your situation. To schedule a time to meet, please call (904) 638-7712 today.