If I Witness a Vehicle Crash, Should I Stop and Help?
We may instinctively want to stop and offer assistance when we see someone we believe to be injured, in danger, or incapacitated, for example, when we witness a vehicle crash. We may not stop to think about the potential danger to ourselves. That’s why most states, Texas included, have Good Samaritan laws that protect citizens in the event that they provide emergency medical assistance. In Texas, the law is designed as a shield from civil liability for people acting in good faith. Such protection also is an incentive for people to stop and help in case of an emergency.
Under the Good Samaritan Law in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (Section 74.151), a person who in good faith administers emergency care is not liable in civil damages for an act performed during the emergency, unless the act is willfully or wantonly negligent. This includes someone who administers aid using an automated external defibrillator and someone who is a first responder and administers emergency care as a volunteer.
Good Samaritans sometimes step into dangerous situations when they step up to help. In Dallas last July, a passing vehicle hit and killed a man who was assisting a stranded driver. The crash was a tragic accident, and the driver that hit the man doesn’t face charges. In a September case in Minnesota that reflected today’s dangers of gun violence, a 31-year-old husband and father of four young kids was fatally shot by a drive-by shooter while responding to the scene of a car crash.
We may hesitate to offer assistance. People worry that if they try to render aid and something goes wrong, the wounded person or their loved ones may sue them for trying to do the right thing. In Texas, if you come upon an injured person and choose not to help, you will not be subject to any criminal liability—assuming you didn’t cause the emergency—nor any civil liability for failing to render aid.
The decision whether to assist people who look like they need help is up to you. If you do decide to, and a problem arises, the state of Texas has your back.
At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to helping you with your accident claim.