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Ohio Supreme Court deals with limits of Good Samaritan statute

Readers may or may not be familiar with the concept of the Good Samaritan in the law of negligence. Ohio, like other states, has its own protections for Good Samaritans. Ohio's statute specifically provides that individuals who administer emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency outside a health care institution may not be held liable for mistakes made in the course of administering that care.

It is well-established that Ohio's Good Samaritan statute extends civil liability protection to medical professionals. A recent Ohio court case, though, dealt with the question of whether the statute extends to individuals who cannot be classified as medical personnel. 

The case dealt with a bystander who attempted to assist a man--at the man's request--who was trapped by his tractor trailer. Because of the bystander's lack of knowledge of how to properly drive a trailer, he caused the man injury which led to the amputation of his leg. The court ended up ruling that the suit against the bystander was invalid because the statute applies to any person who administers emergency care or treatment. The court also ruled that the care provided is not limited to medical care, but includes any form of assistance provided for the safety and well-being of the individual.

An important detail of the ruling, and one which was mentioned in a dissenting opinion, is that the statute covers emergency assistance provided in response to "an unforeseen combination of circumstances [calling] for immediate action." In our next post, we'll look at this issue, and generally at potential scenarios where a medical professional may be held liable for offering emergency aid.

Sources:

Ohio Laws and Rules, 2305.23

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