A Good Samaritan is a person who without expecting any reward and without any duty of care or special relationship, voluntarily comes forward to extend immediate emergency care to a person injured in accident or road crash or any emergency or medical situation. However, for various reasons road accidents have been on the rise and even though road safety norms have been revised from time to time which encourage people to come to the rescue of the injured.
One of the most cited reasons by passerby and onlookers at an accident site is the continued harassment of Good Samaritans or people by the police and other law enforcement agencies which discourage them to come to the rescue of the injured in such critical times. The good Samaritan law protects such people from harassment on the actions being taken by them to save the life of the road accident victims.
According to a Hindustan Times report which quotes a Law Commission of India finding that close to 50 percent of those killed in road accidents could have been saved if they were provided with medical help in those critical hours. The report also states a World Health Organisation (WHO) most of the victims of all road victims die within the 15 minutes of a road accident/collisions.
There is hope as the recent Supreme Court guidelines come to the aid of Good Samaritans when they come to the rescue of accident victims or in distress. The new enacted in August last year states that a Good Samaritan will not be liable to any ‘civil or criminal action’ for any injury or death of the victim who was involved in a road accident. It also says that wherein such injury or death resulted from the Good Samaritan’s negligence in acting or failing to act while providing emergency medical or non-medical assistance.
The law has a long history of it coming into being, but after public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the nation’s highest court in 2012 seeking protection for Good Samaritans who step forward to rescue the injured persons.
The Good Samaritan law was enforced to encourage people who come forward to help injured victims of road accidents without fear of police harassment, detention at hospitals or lengthy legal formalities. As in the past, many people were hesitant by such archaic legal processes and law enforcement hassles.