Texas Good Samaritan Law
Provided by HG.org
Like many other states, Texas has a Good Samaritan Law that protects citizens in the event that they provide emergency medical assistance. This law is meant to shield people acting in good faith and in their best efforts from civil liability and to protect the public by creating an incentive for others to help in a time of emergency.
The premise of this law is that if an individual voluntarily and in good faith attempts to provide medical assistance to another individual involved in an emergency situation, he or she will not be held civilly liable for any damages that providing such care caused. The law applies to common situations, such as a witness seeing someone injured in an automotive accident and rendering emergency medical aid. It specifically applies to any damages that result from using an automated external defibrillator. Additionally, it provides protection to volunteer first responder and to unlicensed medical personnel who are not licensed or certified in the healing arts who act in good faith.
Public policy considerations are the guiding force behind such laws. The state values human life and does not want a bystander to be discouraged from rendering necessary aid because he or she is afraid of being sued if the care he or she provides causes harm to the victim. The Texas Good Samaritan Law has been revised many times, so it is important that individuals who are seeking protection under it be familiar with the most recent rendition, as well as the law that applied at the time when such aid was administered.
Like with many laws, there are a number of exceptions for when civil liability will not be minimized. These exceptions include:
Willful or Wanton Conduct
The protection does not apply if the person rendering aid acted in a willfully or wantonly negligent manner. Making a determination regarding willful or wanton misconduct depends on a careful analysis of the particular facts of the case.
Expectation of Remuneration
This protection also does not apply if the person rendering aid was expecting to be paid for these emergency services. For example, if a physician provided care after the injured party promised to pay for services, this protection would not apply. This exception applies even if the individual providing the aid had no legal right to receive such compensation. The legal question is whether the individual expected remuneration. Additionally, if the individual was simply at the scene of the emergency situation was soliciting business or seeking to otherwise perform a service for remuneration, the protection does not apply.
In cases involving a health care provider who rendered aid in a hospital emergency department or surgical obstetrical unit, the legal analysis for the healthcare providerís potential liability is whether the health care provider deviated from the accepted medical standards of care from the degree of care that one reasonably expects an ordinarily prudent health care provider to render under the same or similar circumstances. The victim has the burden of proof of establishing all legal elements by a preponderance of the evidence.
In order to make this determination, the jury can evaluate whether the health care provider had the patientís medical history and was aware of any pre-existing medical conditions, allergies or medication. Additionally, the jury can evaluate whether a previous physician-patient relationship existed between the two parties. The jury can also assess the circumstances causing the emergency and the circumstances surrounding the providing of emergency medical care.
Cause of Harm
Additionally, this civil protection does not extend to an individual who was responsible for causing the emergency situation. For example, if a driver negligently collided with another vehicle and then rendered aid to the second driver, he or she could still be held civilly liable for damages that result from providing emergency aid.
Individuals who were injured by someone whom they believe falls under one of the expectations or who acted with willful or wanton negligence may wish to discuss their legal claim with a personal injury attorney. He or she can advise the victim of the possibilities of recovering under the circumstances involved in the case, as well as on any potential legal challenges that may arise because of the Texas Good Samaritan Law.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.