Lawsuits are prevalent in today’s society. This can make members of the general public reluctant to try and save someone’s life in the event of a medical emergency because they are afraid of facing a lawsuit. This delay of care could mean the difference between life and death. In some emergencies, an injured person may not be capable of calling for help and may need the assistance of passing strangers. “Good Samaritan” laws are enacted to protect those that act in good faith to help others from undue penalties. Good Samaritan law in New York pertains to preventing an overdose death, resuscitating a person in public, or giving life-saving CPR in an emergency situation. If you offered medical assistance to an individual in need during a life-threatening situation and are facing a lawsuit or criminal charges for your actions, our team at Winkler Kurtz, LLP is here to help!
What is Good Samaritan Law?
Before good these laws were in place, a person that acted in good faith to help another person could suffer criminal charges or liability. An example of this could be a drug user facing charges after calling 911 to report an overdose. Prior to good Samaritan law in New York, a person who called 911 on behalf of someone experiencing an overdose would possibly face arrest for drug possession, drug use, or other drug-related charges. This possibility of facing legal penalties has installed fear and deterred many people from calling for help.
What Does This Law Protect You From?
Everyone who seeks help for themselves or someone else during an overdose and the person that overdosed is protected under this law. These laws are meant to protect everyone who comes to aid an injured person for no reason other than kindness and those who do not expect a reward. The good Samaritan law protects you from the following:
- Possession of controlled substances up to and including A2 felony offenses (under 8 ounces.)
- Possession of marijuana.
- Possession of alcohol where underage drinking is involved.
- Sharing drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia
These laws do not protect you from A1 felony possession of controlled substances (8 or more ounces), the sale or intent to sell controlled substances, probation or parole violations, and open warrants for your arrest. These laws typically only help those that act without the expectation of reward, so paid rescuers are usually held accountable for any mistakes because they are expected to do their jobs correctly. In New York, public health laws also require public institutions and businesses like gyms to maintain automatic external defibrillators that can provide a shock to restart someone’s heart during an emergency.
Importance of This Law
The good Samaritan law in New York derives from the ancient parable of a Samaritan man stopping to help an injured traveler on the side of a road. A priest and Levite had already passed the man without stopping to help, and the Samaritan stopped and carried the injured man to the nearest town and paid for his car. These laws are meant to empower average citizens to save lives without fear of any legal ramifications. To be considered a good Samaritan, an individual must act in good faith to provide emergency assistance or save someone’s life until paramedics arrive on the scene.
Contact Winkler Kurtz, LLP
If you or someone you know has concerns about the aftermath of reporting an overdose, or if you are facing criminal charges after calling 911 for an overdose under the good Samaritan law, our experienced attorneys at Winkler Kurtz, LLP can examine your situation closely and help you understand your rights to this law. To learn more about this law in New York or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!