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Helping Accident Victims and a Daytona Beach Accident Lawyer

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 8:35AM

     Outrage is growing in China over the death of a two-year-old girl who was hit by a van, and then ignored by 18 passersby. The little girl later died in the hospital.

     The Chinese government is debating whether or not to enact a law that would require someone to come to the aid of a person in distress.

     A Daytona Beach accident lawyer notes that laws to encourage others to help their fellow man in distress is a good idea, but sometimes it can put the “Good Samaritan” in danger. All too often there are news stories about someone stopping to help an accident victim or another motorist with car trouble on the highway, only to get hit by a passing vehicle. On Oct. 1, 2011, a truck driver who had stopped on Interstate 4 in Volusia County to assist with an accident was struck and killed by another vehicle even though he was wearing a reflective vest.

     Yet there is an overriding moral principle for helping others in distress. On a lighter note, the final episode of the Seinfeld show on NBC had the four main characters going to jail after failing to help a man who was being robbed. It capped years of episodes that poked fun at the four characters' lack of concern for others.

     But the law used in the show is no joke. Such laws exist throughout the world. Usually called “Good Samaritan” laws, they are enacted to protect people who choose to help others that are injured or ill. The aim is to encourage people to help without fear of getting sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death. In the United States, the law is achieved by using the legal principle of “duty to rescue.”

     "Good Samaritan" laws are named for the parable of Jesus in Luke 10:25-27 that chronicled how others passed by a man who had been beaten and robbed by bandits. But a man from Samaria, who was of a different religious and ethnic background than the injured man, stopped to help him.

     In Florida, the law is F.S. 768.13, “Good Samaritan Act; immunity from civil liability.” It basically protects anyone, including licensed medical practitioners, who provide help to someone in an emergency situation, from getting sued.

     While "Good Samaritan" laws are a good idea, there also is concern they could ignore the rights of the injured person.

     An appeals court in Florida upheld the law in a case involving an anesthesiologist who was on duty in the obstetrics department but volunteered to help with the care of a person in the emergency room. While the patient died, the court ruled the anesthesiologist was acting in good faith.

     On the other hand, the California Supreme Court narrowed the application of its state’s law in a case where a woman pulled another from a vehicle, fearing it would explode. The injured woman was paralyzed and sued. The court held that because of wording in the law, it did not cover all emergency situations and allowed the case to proceed.

     A Daytona Beach accident lawyer hopes we will all step forward and help another in distress if and when the opportunity arises.  Even it is just to hold their hand and talk to them until an ambulance arrives.

     As long as there are incidents like the one with the two-year-old Chinese girl, there will be an outcry for the government to do something. But no matter what laws are enacted, there will always be a continuing debate about their merits.

     A Daytona Beach accident lawyer at Florida-based Daytona Beach accident lawyer can consult with you if you are the victim of an accident or suffer personal injury in any way.

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