Research paper on the various aspects of Good Samaritan laws

Research paper on the various aspects of good samaritan laws

The focal point of this paper is based on the various aspects in relation to the existence and implementation of the Good Samaritan Laws. The paper looks into the different propositions related to the topic in perspective of the nursing profession. It is important for a profession nurse to be completely aware of the Good Samaritan Laws for smooth operative measures of the profession.

The topic would include a history of the law, rather the reason behind how and why it was conceptualized. Next we would discuss the essential reasons of the relation between the Good Samaritan Laws and its implementation and importance to the nursing profession. Furthermore there would be a detailed discussion on the positive and negative aspects of this law on the nursing profession. Then we would incorporate a couple of research paper findings to enumerate the future of these laws within the parameter of the profession of nursing. The last part would be the conclusion where it would be clearly stated about the overall perspective on the topic or in other words it would be a discussion at a personal opinion parameter about this issue.

The term ‘Good Samaritan’ appears in the New Testament part of the Bible. It is included in the chapter of Luke (10:33-35) where the famous parable is referred. (Bible, 2004)  In modern term the Good Samaritan Laws are practiced in the United States of America and Canada. In Canada, specifically in Quebec, the Good Samaritan Laws places a restricted practice to the job of aiding. This means anybody and everybody is barred from helping out citizen in peril if there is chance of physical danger to the helping parties unless otherwise that person is authorized and licensed by the law. But at the same time the law specifies the citizen to follow a number of minimum requirements where the top most priority would be to inform the local authority by calling the number of the local emergency service about the distress immediately if there is no such chance in doing so. In case of such prevailing danger the citizen is required once the distress situation is completely removed. Apart from Canada countries enacting this law are Spain, Andorra, Belgium, France, Italy and Japan.

A particular example of breach of such law could be enumerated as the incident of Princess Diana’s accidental death. Here the photographers at the site of accident were found to be guilty in violating the French Good Samaritan law. In Germany such negligence of duty of a citizen as providing assistance to ailing individual is subjected to the degree of prosecution and is regarded as an offence. Here this negligence is enumerated as “Unterlassene Hilfeleistung”. (Sen, 2003) In Germany it is the general norm to become a qualified first aid provider in order to obtain a driving license. It is also provided by the law that if a person in peril dies while a citizen is indulged in offering first aid to the person and the whole act is done in good faith the citizen would not be prosecuted by the law. It should be noted that in accordance to some jurisdiction the Good Samaritan laws are only applicable or in other words are responsible for protecting to those who are certified from specific institutions, related health organizations, organizations or authorities. In the United States of America these specific institutions, organizations, related health organization or authorities can be enumerated as American Safety and Health Institute, American Red Cross and American Heart Association. In Canada the laws of Good Samaritan Acts are formulated in such a manner that they are regarded as provincial power system, therefore it is evident that in this case there would be number of provincial acts. These provincial acts relating to the laws of Good Samaritan Acts can be enumerated as Volunteer Services Act in Nova Scotia, Good Samaritan Act in British Columbia, Emergency Medical Aid Act in Alberta and Good Samaritan Act, 2001 in Ontario. (Greg, 2005)

This law or the Good Samaritan Laws are enacted, in general sense, to protect personnel who are in the business of nursing, or in other words, it is directed towards people who are indulging themselves in the field of aiding people in peril in terms of illness or injury. The need of this law can be enumerated as a statement that would enable these personnel to protect themselves from being prosecuted for   wrongful death or unintentional injury that are predominantly unintentional. Thus these laws or the Good Samaritan Laws enables the nurses and personnel involved in similar mode of duty to work in a trouble free and fearless manner. With assurances from the authority or the law these personnel can concentrate completely on their duty and not think of or get tensed with thoughts of undue hazards from the patient parties in case of possible mishaps.

Along with these positive aspects of the Good Samaritan Laws it should be recognized that with this coverage of these laws it is possible that some individuals may take advantage. Such things may not be a certainty but the possibility or better to say probability always remains. There could be circumstances that an individual may perform some illegal means and still comes out totally unscratched using the loopholes of the laws. There is also the possibility that an individual may unintentionally neglect the duty that may result in death to the patient and yet may be forgiven or pardoned by the law if it can be proved the entire act was unintentional where the term ‘neglect’ could be covered up by the sections of the law if the defendant is able to prove such a measure. Therefore, the whole act is subsequently termed legal but a life is lost unduly under the given circumstances. (Harold, 2005)

Future of the according to the Researchers:

However, it should be mentioned that the Good Samaritan Laws are comparatively new laws and there are enough room for development and clarification in the near future. For example it would be relevant to mention that Section 6-5-332 sub section (d) of the Alabama Good Samaritan Act ” Any person who is qualified by a federal or state agency to perform mine rescue planning and recovery operations, including mine rescue instructors and mine rescue team members, and any person designated by an operator furnishing a mine rescue team to supervise, assist in planning or provide service thereto, who, in good faith, performs or fails to perform any act or service in connection with mine rescue planning and recovery operations shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions. Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to exempt from liability any person responsible for an overall mine rescue operation, including an operator of an affected facility and any person assuming responsibility therefore under federal or state statutes or regulations.(Acts 1966, Ex. Sess., No. 253, p. 377; Acts 1975, No. 1233, p. 2594; Acts 1981, No. 81-804, p. 1427; Acts 1987, No. 87-390, p. 558, §1; Acts 1993, No. 93-373, §1.)” (Alabama Good Samaritan Act, 2004) Stainton Rogers, Stenner,  Gleesen, and Owens mentioned in their research paper, in 2006, Intelligence, Common Sense and Law: A Critical Agenda published by Polity Press, Cambridge, that according to this law the term “Good Faith” is rather obscure in nature and it is rather relative in the perspective of a life and death situation of an individual. This point is in need of specification in a clearer sense. (Stainton, 2006)

Another interesting observation was made by Susan Lamb. She noted that back in 1998 Seinfeld, a popular series by NBC, it was found that the main protagonists of the series were all penalized under the jurisdiction of the Good Samaritan law for not offering helping hand in a given circumstance. In fact these people were seen making fun out of the situation rather than helping out. This form of social advertisement is necessary in a larger scale to make good citizen out of ordinary people and for this understanding and implementing the Good Samaritan laws could provide a greater insight into the definition of better civic senses. (Lamb, 2002)

On a personal ground it would be relevant to suggest that laws like the Good Samaritan laws are needed for the betterment of livelihood in a civilized society. At the same note it should also be stated that laws, such vital as the Good Samaritan laws, must be better defined and intricately implemented. It is not just a great tool in the hands of the people who are proceeding on their personal mission of service to work in a tension free and trouble less manner but from the point of view of a general citizen it is equally important to be aware of the details of the Good Samaritan laws in a wider sense and implement them to become a better person, a better neighbor and better citizen all at the same time. As from the perspective of the profession of nursing it should be mentioned that with the enactment and implementation of these laws such as Good Samaritan laws the responsibilities becomes much more. This is because when the state relies on the nurses and supports their profession and personal securities with the help of implementation of the Good Samaritan laws it becomes that much important for the nurses to provide the patients with that much extra care if not anything but to show their gratitude towards the law and the nation as a whole. Thus the Good Samaritan laws could be stated as a multi dimensional effective measurement that provide a multi tasking ability and a dexterous presentation of jurisdiction the is directed towards the betterment of the society itself.


Alabama Good Samaritan Act; 2004, Doctors, nurses, policemen, firemen, rescue squad members, etc., rendering first aid or emergency care at scene of accident, etc.;; page 1; paragraph 4; retrieved on 15.10.2006 from

Greg, D; 2005; Comparative Analysis: A Look into the Similarities and Contrast among Nations Regarding Service Laws; General Hubert Publishers; 119-121

Harold, Tim; 2005; The Essence of Better Living: The Perspective of Nursing as a Profession; NBT Ltd. 331-332

Lamb, Susan R; (2002); Justifications of Law; Curtley-Vosges. 29

Mark, Rev. T (edited & translated from Latin Bible); 2004; The Bible; National Book Trust; 244

Sen, S; 2003; Introduction to German Laws; ABP Ltd; 98.

Stainton Rogers, R., Stenner, P., Gleesen, K. and Stainton Rogers, W. 2006; Intelligence, Common Sense and Law: A Critical Agenda. Polity Press, Cambridge. 174-175