Good Samaritan Laws To Be Rewritten?

On December 19th, we wrote an article about a poorly decided California Supreme Court decision, Van Horn v. Watson, S152360, which held that California’s Good Samaritan statute, Health & Safety Code § 1799.102, only provided immunity for persons providing emergency medical care at the scene of an accident or other emergency. The Court held that those who render emergency assistance, such as pulling a person from a burning car, are not immune from liability. We feel this was a poor decision by the Supreme Court and agree with the dissenting minority’s position that immunity should be provided to those who render emergency assistance as well.

At least three legislators, from both parties, agree and have introduced proposed legislation which would expand the Good Samaritan statute to provide immunity for those who render emergency assistance, even if the assistance is not medical in nature.

“As a [former] CHP commander, I rolled up on the scene of many accidents and very often people were there rendering help,” said state Sen. John Benoit, R-Palm Desert, who has authored a bill challenging the Van Horn ruling. “We wouldn’t want that type of thing to stop.” Sen. Benoit is seeking to combine his proposed bill with one proposed by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a former legal aid attorney. Another bill has been proposed by Assemblyman Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia.

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