Understanding Virginia’s Good Samaritan Law

If you witness an auto accident in Richmond, Virginia Beach, or Norfolk and there’s no police or ambulance on the scene yet, you may feel the need to interfere to save a victim’s life. Your first step should be to call 911 to ensure medical help is on the way; however, if you believe the situation is time sensitive, you may be the only hope for preventing further injury to the victim.

While you have no obligation to interfere in the accident as a passerby, Virginia’s good Samaritan law will protect you if you get injured while trying to rescue the victim in the wreck.

For example, if you witness a car accident and the car is on fire, you may run to pull the victim from the burning car. While pulling the victim from the car, you may suffer significant burn injuries yourself. The good Samaritan law allows you to recover damages for your injuries from the negligent party who caused the car wreck.

Details of the Good Samaritan Law

Because the point of the good Samaritan law is to encourage others to rescue individuals when they believe they can prevent further injury or when they are doing so in good faith, this law usually protects rescuers from being sued by the victim even if the rescuer accidentally causes further injury to the victim.

Aside from rescuing a victim from a car accident, the good Samaritan law also applies to situations like delivering a baby, administering CPR, using an AED on a victim, giving an epinephrine pen to someone with an allergic reaction, when the police or other medical professionals request help, or when an employee gives insulin to a child.

As long as the actions of the rescuer are reasonable and in good faith, the rescuer shouldn’t be responsible for damages to the victim or injuries they suffer.

Evaluation on a Case-by-Case Basis

Because a rescuer’s “reasonable” or “in good faith” actions can be hard to determine, the court evaluates most good Samaritan lawsuits on a case-by-case basis. Each rescuer’s actions are unique and while some situations may prove reasonable, others may prove irresponsible and dangerous.

Knowing the good Samaritan law is important because it encourages the citizens of Virginia to help one another in times of need. Hopefully, if you were ever in a situation where someone else was in need of rescuing and you felt capable of intervening, you’d take action knowing that you’re protected under the law.