Understanding the Good Samaritan Laws in Oregon

You may have heard about the concept of “Good Samaritan” laws but not really understood what they do and who they protect. There are times when situations arise in which a person is injured and would benefit from the help of a nearby bystander. However, there have been times in which people face lawsuits for trying to help those at the scene of a car accident, structure fires, or other emergency situations.

Good Samaritan laws are designed to protect those who do decide to help in emergency situations. Understanding Oregon’s Good Samaritan laws could prove to be helpful if you find yourself in a situation where help is required.

What does the law say?

Under the Oregon Good Samaritan Law (ORS 30.800), there are parameters established as to what actions are protected and in what situations they are appropriate. In general, the Good Samaritan law provides assurance to those who help in an emergency situation, unless they are grossly negligent when providing assistance.

Grossly negligent actions refer to actions that should never have taken place. For example, if a person is not certified to administer CPR, then they should not do so. Despite what is shown on TV shows, CPR techniques require practice, and a person who is not certified to do so can break bones and cause further damage to the person in the emergency situation.

Some highlights of the law include the following:

  • Any medical care rendered must be performed voluntarily and in good faith. There can be no expectation of compensation (no discussion of money) before care is rendered.
  • The law covers medical or dental care not provided in a place where medical care is readily available (such as a hospital).
  • No person may seek damages due to injuries or death that resulted from acts or omissions of the person who rendered the emergency medical assistance (unless the person who rendered aid was grossly negligent).

It is important that those who render any medical aid to someone in an emergency situation not go beyond what they are trained to do. If you are trained in CPR, you can perform CPR without fear of being sued by the person experiencing the emergency or their family. However, you cannot attempt surgical or advanced procedures that are beyond your scope of training.

What about actions taken in a healthcare setting?

Healthcare professionals who perform lifesaving actions while in the scope of their duties are not covered by Oregon’s Good Samaritan law. For example, a doctor working in the emergency room is not protected from lawsuits for any damages they cause while rendering care. Similarly, EMS personnel are not covered by Oregon’s Good Samaritan law when they are at work or in their volunteer capacity with an agency.

Medical professionals who have a duty of care owed to the patient could face medical malpractice lawsuits for any acts of omission or carelessness that cause injuries. However, that same ER doctor and EMS personnel would be protected under the Good Samaritan law if they render aid to someone while they are off-duty and away from a medical facility. Rendering emergency care in and of itself, according to Oregon law, does not establish a professional relationship between the healthcare provider and the person receiving the assistance.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, call the Portland personal injury attorneys at Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC today.