We all have a duty to act with reasonable care towards others. This is the basic principle underlying all of Georgia tort law. A secondary principle is that generally speaking, none of us have a duty to go out of our way to help each other. We have a duty not to cause harm, but there is no legal requirement that we give aid to others.
Putting these two legal principles together creates a problem when people need emergency medical care. If someone decides to help, they put themselves at risk of legal liability if they make a mistake and cause further harm. But if they decide to do nothing, they have no legal liability for what happens. The recent tragic case of Lorraine Bayless highlights this problem.
Lorraine Bayless was living at Glenwood Gardens, an elderly care facility, when she stopped breathing. Someone at Glenwood Gardens called 911, and the emergency dispatcher on the phone urged them to start CPR. But there was a strict policy at Glenwood Gardens for employees not to provide medical care, and the employee stated that she couldn’t help because her boss told her not to do anything.
The 9-11 dispatcher asked if, even though the employees were instructed not to perform CPR, if any one could help Bayless stay alive. The employee, instructed by her boss not to do anything that could incur liability for the facility, stated the only thing she could: “Not at this time.” By the time the EMS crew arrived, Lorraine Bayless was dead.
To encourage people to help those in need, Georgia has a law protecting people from legal liability when they give medical aid to someone in an emergency. This is called the Georgia Good Samaritan Law. Under this law, if you try to help someone by giving CPR or any other emergency medical care, you cannot be held liable for any mistake you make under the Georgia Good Samaritan Law.
Georgia’s Good Samaritan Law
Georgia’s “Good Samaritan law” is found Title 51 Chapter 1 Section 29 of the Official Code of Georgia. It states:
Any person, including any person licensed to practice medicine and surgery, and including any person licensed to render services ancillary thereto, who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim or victims thereof without making any charge therefor shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured person.
Under this law, a person giving aid cannot be found liable for negligence and a doctor or health professional giving emergency aid without charge is immune from a medical malpractice suit.
Contact the Kennesaw, GA Personal Injury Attorneys at Williams Elleby, to Discuss Your Case
The Kennesaw, GA personal injury attorneys at Williams Elleby, fully understand Georgia personal injury law. If you have any questions about this issue or would like to discuss your case, contact Williams Elleby, at 833-LEGALGA today.