What Is the Good Samaritan Law in IOWA?
Understanding a person's rights at the time of an accident is key to prevent any problems and ensure the right emergency assistance for the injured person. A common law established worldwide for emergency medical assistance is the Good Samaritan law.
Currently, all 50 U.S. states (including the District of Columbia) have Good Samaritan laws, although the details vary a bit depending on the area. This article offers a deeper insight into such laws in the state of IOWA.
What Is a "Good Samaritan"?
A Good Samaritan is someone who, in good faith, provides emergency care to another person voluntarily. Typically, Good Samaritans offer help to the injured or ill person until they receive further medical treatment; due to the circumstances surrounding the accident, the person acting as a Good Samaritan must be as careful as possible while rendering help.
It's important to note that, in some states, a person is not required by law to provide first aid/emergency aid to an injured or sick person if it's not on their job description. Still, the person can provide emergency care, as long as it's in good faith and doesn't do it in a reckless manner.
What Do the Good Samaritan Laws Involve?
Good Samaritan laws apply for people who decide to provide reasonable assistance to someone else with their implied consent. In those cases, the person providing the first aid can enjoy legal protection while attempting to save the other person's life.
There are some cases in which providing help to someone else in an emergency situation (i.e., a car accident) can make the Good Samaritan potentially liable for anything that happens to the victim after the volunteer decided to provide emergency treatment.
The primary purpose of the Good Samaritan protection laws in IOWA is to encourage emergency medical treatment without any civil liability; in essence, the person who renders aid to the person suffering from the injuries is not going to be liable for any damages as a result of his or her acts. Additionally, any person or entity that (without compensation) renders emergency care to someone suffering from a cardiac arrest may be immune from any liability.
A Good Samaritan act follows three simple doctrines. If all of these three doctrines apply, the person providing the life-saving treatment may save themselves from liability:
The emergency situations weren't caused by the volunteer
The emergency services were performed as a result of the accident
The emergency medical care wasn't provided through gross negligence
It's important to note that the "task" of Good Samaritans is not to provide full medical aid to the person assisted, but rather to keep that person stable until police officers or medical authorities arrive at the scene.
What Is Gross Negligence?
When it comes to emergency care, negligence in IOWA refers to any act that doesn't go up to society's standards for reasonable behavior. In essence, if the person rendering emergency care knows that they can endanger the personal injury victim even further through their assistance, they can be exposed to legal repercussions.
It's important to note that gross negligence isn't the same as "ordinary negligence." In ordinary negligence, the emergency health care provider fails to act as a reasonably prudent person. Another definition states this negligence type happens when the volunteer can't exercise such assistance as the average person would have under the same or similar circumstances.
Are Medical Professionals Covered by Good Samaritan Laws?
Typically, medical personnel isn't protected since most Good Samaritan laws are for people who don't typically provide medical emergency care to another person. Still, the state of IOWA has some exceptions for emergency medical technicians or health care providers that weren't on duty when the accident happened.
If a medical authority finished their working hours and then notices that the person injured needs assistance, they may apply for medical services without having any liability as long as they did it voluntarily.
Overall, any doctor, nurse, medical technician, intern practicing in any programs approved by the American Medical Association, chiropractor, or other professionals in the field that offer help or arrange further medical treatments for an accident victim may not be liable for civil damages.
What Happens in Case of In-Flight Medical Emergencies?
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. airlines must include 24/7 access to an emergency medical kit and automated external defibrillators in cases of emergency. Additionally, these airlines must have access to emergency health care professionals that can respond to consultations. Still, if there are any emergency physicians at the scene of an emergency while on the air, they may enjoy protection (even if they use equipment as an automated external defibrillator) as long as they aren't found guilty of gross negligence.
Good Samaritan Law for Medical Assistance in Drug Overdoses
Many Good Samaritan laws also offer aid for a person who witnesses a drug overdose and reports it to the authorities, as long as that person acts in good faith. In the state of IOWA, a witness of an overdose (or "overdose reporters" as the legal definition establishes), are not going to be arrested for possessing a controlled substance if they sought first aid for an overdose patient.
These laws apply as long as the overdose reporter keeps up with the following scenarios:
They're the first person to seek help for the victim
They provide their contact data to the authorities
They stay on the scene of the emergency until the victim receives further help
They cooperate with the authorities at all times
While Good Samaritan laws apply for overdose reporters, they don't apply against arrests for open warrants or other related crimes. People may find more information about IOWA's Good Samaritan laws under the IOWA Code S - 124.418.
Contacting a Lawyer for More Information About Good Samaritan Laws
Personal injuries tend to cause a shock for everyone involved, and the volunteers may often not pay attention to the repercussions of any negligent acts until it's too late. While it's highly important for everyone involved to seek medical help immediately, it's also vital to seek free consultation from an experienced law firm to avoid any problems. For more information on Good Samaritan Laws as well as Stand Your Ground or Sex Offender Laws, talk to an attorney.
If you are looking for a good injury lawyer, Tom Fowler Law Firm is prepared to assist any volunteers with the Good Samaritan guidelines in IOWA so that they get the immunity they deserve for their acts (if applicable).