What Are Good Samaritan Laws?

In the field of law, a “Good Samaritan” refers to someone who helps others in need voluntarily and without expectations. In America, every state has adopted its own set of good Samaritan laws designed to protect helpful individuals from unfair legal liability. These laws enable and encourage people to help others in serious situations without fear of repercussions.

Good Samaritan Laws in Missouri

In Missouri, §537.037, RSMo outlines the state’s Good Samaritan Law. The statute specifies civil liability exceptions for different types of good Samaritans:

For each of the above categories, freedom from liability does not cover damages the individual inflicts through gross negligence, willful and wanton acts, or omissions. Unlike some states, good Samaritan laws in Missouri do not offer blanket protection to anyone willing to lend a hand. Passersby may face legal liability for lending a hand at an accident or emergency scene.

Good Samaritan Laws in Kansas

In Kansas, K.S.A. §65-2891 stipulates protections for those who provide care at the scene of an emergency. The state laws protect health care providers defined as licensed and/or certified medical professionals.

Under the current laws, health care providers may freely and in good faith offer emergency support at the scene of an accident without fear of legal liability. The law protects providers who treat minors without parental consent in emergencies and in incidents involving competitive sports injuries. Providers who offer care in a health care setting, without or without compensation, can claim protections until he or she formally accepts responsibility for the patient’s medical care.

K.S.A. §65-4337 goes on to offer protections for qualified ambulance personnel who support those in need using manual cardiac defibrillation as well as protections for medical advisors who review ambulance personnel competence. As in Missouri’s good Samaritan laws, Kansas protections do not extend to any harmful acts that arise out of gross negligence, willful or wanton acts, or omissions.

How Good Samaritan Laws Affect Personal Injury Claims

Good Samaritan laws provide much needed protections for those who are capable and qualified to assist, but they also increase the burden of proof for plaintiffs in personal injury claims. Under normal circumstances, an injured plaintiff could hold a health care provider responsible for failing to uphold the medical standard of care. Under the protective laws in Missouri and Kansas, plaintiffs must often go beyond medical negligence to prove gross negligence.

Every state enforces a different set of Good Samaritan laws that offer varying levels of protections under specific sets of circumstances. In Missouri and Kansas, the laws do not protect non-trained citizens who want to lend a helping hand. While lawsuits against good Samaritans are few and far between, a certain level of risk exists when someone tries to help. Read through your state’s applicable good Samaritan laws so you can help others and protect yourself.