Don’t Be Afraid to Help! Colorado’s Good Samaritan Law
By admin on August 10, 2016
We talk a lot about steps that we can take to promote safety on roadways in Colorado. Being a more conscientious driver not only lowers your risk of being in a collision (see our recent post The D’Angelo Guide to Defensive Driving), it reduces stress and improves your mood as well. No matter how safe we are though, there will be collisions on our roadways.
The time immediately following a collision is critical, and in some cases actions taken by bystanders can save lives. Would you hesitate if you saw someone in need and were in a position to help? Unfortunately, the threat of lawsuits do cause some people to hold back when they could be providing aid. It doesn’t matter that the idea everything you do might get you sued is largely a falsehood pushed by the media – people view the threat as real.
In Colorado however, along with many other states, there is no need to worry. Thanks to Good Samaritan laws, those providing aid in times of emergency are protected from legal action. That means you can worry about saving a life, rather than whether or not you’ll be sued, if you ever find yourself in a position to help.
Let’s take a look at the exact language of Colorado’s Good Samaritan Law:
Any person licensed as a physician and surgeon under the laws of the state of Colorado, or any other person, who in good faith renders emergency care or emergency assistance to a person not presently his patient without compensation at the place of an emergency or accident, including a health care institution as defined in section 13-64-202 (3), shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions made in good faith as a result of the rendering of such emergency care or emergency assistance during the emergency, unless the acts or omissions were grossly negligent or willful and wanton.
There are probably a couple of things you notice about the law right away. First, it specifically mentions doctors, and this is for good reason. The most likely people to be in a position to provide aid as a passerby are those who are trained to do so professionally. Doctors and other medical professionals however, operate within a very strict set of rules. This law provides them with reassurance that they can act in good faith to save lives without worrying about legal repercussions for damages or omissions they make while giving aid.
Colorado’s Good Samaritan Law also protects an individual like you or me if we attempt to help during a difficult situation, and has language safeguarding members of volunteer emergency response teams and ski patrol units as well. The bottom line is, if you’re capable of providing aid and see someone in need, you should. Most people do and don’t worry about the eventual outcome, they just try to help in any way they can.
The second thing you’ll notice about the law is that it does leave open the possibility for lawsuits IF the act or omission was grossly negligent or willful and wanton. In other words, you can’t intentionally perform an act that is reckless or obviously harmful. Don’t attempt to do something you’re not qualified or sufficiently prepared to do. Sometimes, the best way to provide aid is to call the professional first-responders and remain on the scene to provide comfort to those involved.
Nobody wants to witness an injury-causing collision, but it helps to be prepared if you’re ever in that position. If you’ve never taken a class in first aid or CPR, no time like the present so you can be more prepared the next time an emergency happens on the road or some place else. If you see one and you’re in a position to help, please do what you can. Your contribution could save somebody’s life.