Most Floridians want to help their neighbors. But they also know that more than 73,000 new tort claims were filed in Florida courts last year alone.
If you see someone in danger, you may want to help. What if you wind up hurt yourself when trying to assist someone?
Florida Good Samaritan laws help us help each other. The laws encourage and empower bystanders to give aid. The laws protect people from liability if they provide medical assistance in an emergency. If you are acting as a Good Samaritan and are injured by someone else’s negligence, the law may be on your side as well.
The personal injury attorneys of Maderal Byrne & Furst PLLC explain Florida Good Samaritan laws.
Does Florida Have a Good Samaritan Law?
Florida Statutes § 768.12 is the Florida Good Samaritan Law. The law says that any person, including licensed medical practitioners, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment in direct response to an emergency shall not be held liable for civil damages because of such care or treatment.
When does the Florida Good Samaritan Law apply?
The Florida Good Samaritan law applies when all the following are true:
- The services are gratuitous – you can’t expect to be paid for assisting
- It’s an emergency – either a personal emergency or a public health emergency
- The victim doesn’t object to the treatment
- You act as an ordinary, reasonably prudent person would have acted in the circumstances
If it’s an emergency, and the hurt person doesn’t tell you not to, you can provide medical attention and care. You must help for free. As soon as you ask for or accept payment, the protections of the Good Samaritan Law don’t apply.
What Is the Purpose of the Florida Good Samaritan Law?
The purpose of the Florida Good Samaritan Law is to encourage people to provide necessary emergency care without fear of litigation.
Do all 50 states have Good Samaritan laws?
Yes. All 50 states have a Good Samaritan law. They aren’t all the same. There are slight variations that usually pertain to when the law applies to medical professionals.
Does the Florida Good Samaritan Law apply to doctors and nurses?
The Florida Good Samaritan Law applies to any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, including doctors and nurses. In addition, Florida Statutes § 768.13(2)(b) addresses emergency medical attention provided by any health care provider, including a hospital.
FAQs About Florida’s Good Samaritan Act
Here are some other laws and frequently asked questions that are related to the Florida Good Samaritan Act:
Are you legally required to save someone’s life in Florida?
In Florida, there is no duty to save someone’s life or otherwise assist in the event of an emergency. Even if someone is in danger, you don’t have to help them if you don’t want to.
If you choose to help and you get hurt in the process, you may have a claim for compensation against a negligent third party.
Do nurses have to help off-duty in Florida?
No. In Florida, nurses do not have to help off-duty if they see an emergency. Unless you’re on call or otherwise required to help as part of your employment, you don’t have to get involved. If you choose to get involved, Good Samaritan laws apply.
Will you get sued if you use a defibrillator on someone in Florida?
Florida Statutes § 768.1325 creates civil immunity for a person who uses an automated external defibrillator (AED) on someone in a perceived medical emergency. The person it is used on must not have objected to its use. Immunity does not apply in several circumstances, including for willful misconduct or recklessness and for licensed health professionals acting in the scope of their employment.
Are volunteer doctors at elementary and high school sporting events immune from liability in Florida?
Yes. Florida Statutes § 768.135 exempts volunteer team doctors for elementary and high schools from liability for rendering emergency care to a participant in a sporting event.
Can you break a car window to save a person or animal on a hot day in Florida?
Florida Statutes § 768.139 creates immunity for breaking a car window to save a person or animal on a hot day in Florida. The person breaking the window must determine that there is no other reasonable way to get the person or animal out of the vehicle. They must have a reasonable and good faith belief that entering the motor vehicle is necessary, they must call law enforcement in advance, use no more force than necessary, and stay with the vehicle until first responders arrive.
Does the Florida Good Samaritan Law apply to helping an animal that is hit by a car?
Florida Statutes § 768.13(3) says that any person, including a veterinarian, who provides gratuitous, good-faith emergency care to an injured animal on the side of the road is not liable for civil damages if they act as an ordinary, reasonably prudent person would in the circumstances.
Case Law, Limitations of the Florida Good Samaritan Act
There are criticisms of the Florida Good Samaritan Act.
The law says that the care provided must be that of an ordinary, reasonably prudent person. Critics say this is the same negligence standard that applies in all situations. In Fitness v. Mayer, the court criticized the Good Samaritan Act as being “no different than the common law standard of care.” They say that the protections of the Good Samaritan Act are illusory. Fitness v. Mayer, 980 So. 2d 550 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2008).
However, Lane v. Calhoun-Liberty County Hosp., 846 F. Supp. 1543 (N.D. Fla. 1994), said that the Florida Good Samaritan Act is meant to provide immunity for simple negligence. See also Harris v. Soha, 15 So. 3d 767 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2009), applying the Good Samaritan Act where an anesthesiologist responded to a request for help in the emergency room even though he didn’t provide on-call services to the emergency room.
Discuss Your Claim With a Personal Injury Lawyer
At Maderal Byrne & Furst, we look at all opportunities for the laws to protect our clients and to advance their interests under the law. If you were harmed trying to do the right thing, talk to a lawyer about your situation. Contact us today by phone or online.