Protecting Good Samaritans: Legal exemptions for the well intentioned
May 29, 2023
There are many references to the Bible in English law. The principle of the “Good Samaritan” is one of the most famous. It refers to a parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 10:25-37). The parable recounts the story of a traveller who was robbed, beaten, and left half-dead on the side of the road. Several religious figures, including a priest and a Levite, passed by without offering any help or assistance. However, a Samaritan, who belonged to a despised ethnic group of that time, came upon the injured man. The Samaritan was moved with compassion, bandaged the man’s wounds, and took him to an inn, where he paid for his care and recovery.
The Samaritan’s actions demonstrated kindness, mercy, and selflessness. The parable of the Good Samaritan serves as a lesson about the importance of showing compassion and assistance to those in need, regardless of social or cultural differences. It encourages individuals to extend their care and concern beyond their immediate circles and to act with genuine empathy towards others.
In Australia, the Good Samaritan principle plays a role in promoting acts of compassion and protection within the community by protecting those who act from this motive.
This legal principle recognizes the importance of individuals stepping forward to assist those in need during emergencies or life-threatening situations. This article explores the concept of the Good Samaritan principle in law, its scope of application, and the protection it affords to those who provide voluntary aid in good faith.
The Good Samaritan Principle
The Good Samaritan principle in New South Wales is primarily governed by the Civil Liability Act 2002. Under this legislation, individuals who render assistance in emergencies are granted legal protection from civil liability, as long as they act reasonably and in good faith. This principle encourages people to act without hesitation, knowing that their actions will not result in undue legal consequences.
Section 56 Who is a good Samaritan? A good Samaritan is a person who, in good faith and without expectation of payment or other reward, comes to the assistance of a person who is apparently injured or at risk of being injured.
Scope of Application
The Good Samaritan principle applies to situations where immediate assistance is required to prevent injury or harm to others. It encompasses a wide range of scenarios, including providing first aid, administering CPR, rescuing individuals from dangerous situations, or alerting emergency services. The principle is not limited to medical emergencies but extends to any circumstances where immediate aid can help prevent further harm.
Protection and Immunity
Under the Civil Liability Act 2002, Good Samaritans are protected from civil liability unless their actions are deemed grossly negligent or reckless. This means that individuals who provide aid in good faith are generally immune from being sued for damages that may occur during the course of their assistance. This legal protection aims to encourage individuals to act promptly and selflessly in emergency situations.
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