December 15, 2014

In California, a Good Samaritan under the law is someone who renders emergency or non-emergency care at the scene of an emergency, and does not take or expect compensation for their actions. California Good Samaritan laws are meant to protect people who, out of the kindness of their own hearts, help others who are in emergency situations, even if what they do to help ends up hurting the person they are helping.

What are California Good Samaritan Laws?

California Good Samaritan law
California Good Samaritan laws protect those who attempt to help others.

California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102 says, “No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission.” The law also clarifies that a person cannot be held liable for civil damages unless their actions or omissions constitute “gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. “

The law says that the intent of California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102 is to encourage people to help each other during emergency situations, while ensuring that those who do volunteer to help act responsibly.1

Issues with the California Good Samaritan Law (Health and Safety Code 1799.102)

Prior to 2009, when Assembly Bill 83 was signed into effect, California’s Good Samaritan law only protected citizens who volunteered to render emergency medical care at the scene of an emergency. That original law spurred AB 83 after a Good Samaritan witnessed a car accident, and pulled a person from the car she believed was going to catch on fire. The person pulled from the car sustained physical injuries during the rescue, which included paralysis. The person who was pulled from the car filed a lawsuit against the rescuer because of the injuries she sustained. The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the injured plaintiff. The court stated they had no choice but to do so because the Good Samaritan Law only provided for protection for someone who was rendering medical care.2

Since that time, the law has been amended under Assembly Bill 83 to its current language, which includes protection for people who volunteer in both medical and non-medical capacities at the scene of an emergency situation.

Do California Good Samaritan Laws Work?

Good Samaritan laws are designed to protect people labeled as “Good Samaritans” by the law from facing civil and criminal penalties in the event that they attempt to help a person in need. Do you think these laws are fair? Should the actions of “Good Samaritans” be protected by the law, even when those actions result in more harm than good? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


1. [http://law.onecle.com/california/health/1799.102.html]
2. [http://firstaid.about.com/od/medicallegal/a/07_no_good_sam.htm ]

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