411: Florida’s Good Samaritan Law
As experienced South Florida personal injury attorneys, we know that when an individual is harmed due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, they have a right to take that individual to court in pursuit of compensation for the damages sustained as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing. A caveat to this rule lies within subsection s. 768.13 of the Florida State Statutes, otherwise known as Florida’s “Good Samaritan Act.”
No, this isn’t the type of Good Samaritan Law that was a part of the series finale of Seinfeld—you know, when Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine were prosecuted and sentenced to one year in prison for making fun of (rather than helping) someone being robbed at gunpoint, thereby violating Massachusetts’ fictitious “Good Samaritan Law.” In reality, Florida’s actual Good Samaritan Act encourages—but does not make mandatory—the assistance of people in caring for individuals in emergency situations. The Good Samaritan Act offers protection to good Samaritans who choose to go out of their way to help their fellow Floridians in cases of health emergencies or other official state of emergencies.
The protection comes in the form of immunity; according to the statute, “any person, including those licensed to practice medicine, who gratuitously and in good faith renders emergency care or treatment either in direct response to emergency situations related to and arising out of a public health emergency declared pursuant to s. 381.00315, a state of emergency which has been declared pursuant to s. 252.36 or at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment, without objection of the injured victim or victims thereof, shall not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of such care or treatment or as a result of any act or failure to act in providing or arranging further medical treatment where the person acts as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances.”
So, if you’re injured during a natural disaster, and somebody comes to your assistance and tries to provide medical emergency care to you (with your permission) in a proper location as described above, you cannot sue them for damages arising directly from the actions they take or don’t take in providing you with care at that very moment. There are many particularities in the statute, which can be located here, but the purpose of the statute is to provide immunity from civil liability for people who might otherwise choose not to assist a Floridian in need due to the threat of liability.
In contrast, if you visit a doctor during a doctor’s appointment and they make a serious mistake, leaving you with a disability, you can (and should) hold them liable. In the type of emergency situation describe above, you cannot hold your impromptu caregiver liable in a court of law, because of Florida’s Good Samaritan Act.
In addition to encouraging people to help other people, the statute encourages people to provide assistance to injured animals in emergency situations on or adjacent to roadways; the statute provides that if someone gratuitously offers emergency care to an injured animal, they cannot be held responsible for damages arising directly from the actions they take or don’t take during that particular incident.
The Good Samaritan Act aside, if you incur injuries due to the negligence of an individual who was not attempting to provide you with medical care during a state of emergency, or who was providing you with emergency care to which you did not consent, you can hold them liable for the damages you incur.
If you’ve been injured due to the wrongdoing of another, contact us at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg for a free consultation. You can reach us by calling 561-266-9191 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.