Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2011/03/02

Design in Law

Design can be found everywhere. Take the curious case of California’s Supreme Court ruling against being a good Samaritan. Right now if there is someone in a burning house you may want to think twice before rescuing them. Unless you are giving “medical care,” according to the Los Angeles Times editorial, during that emergency, you could get sued by the person you helped when there is some permanent bodily damage. Someone designing the law forgot to shield everyone wanting to help in an emergency. That indemnity is important if we want to feel comfortable to assist when the time comes in an earthquake, fire, or other tragedy.
State Senator John J. Benoit’s Bill 39 may take care of this omission. As the devil is in the details, there may be a few questions. What is an “emergency?” Is “non-medical” defined well? Does the “scene of an emergency” include both ends of a suicide or addiction hotline? This is the text.
SECTION 1.  This act shall be known and may be cited as the Good
Samaritan Protection Act.
SEC. 2.  Section 1799.102 of the Health and Safety Code is amended
to read:
1799.102.  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 scene of an emergency shall not include
emergency departments and other places where medical care is usually

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