With festival season quickly approaching, it’s essential to remember that it’s important to keep not only yourself safe, but to help others as well. However, we understand that there are some fears and misconceptions that surround providing aid to those in need. To provide some clarity on the matter, we’re going to explain a few of Washington State’s ‘Good Samaritan’ laws.
The first one to discuss will be RCW 4.24.300, the ‘Good Samaritan’ law that addresses bystander liability.
Any person, including but not limited to a volunteer provider of emergency or medical services, who without compensation or the expectation of compensation renders emergency care at the scene of an emergency or who participates in transporting, not for compensation, therefrom an injured person or persons for emergency medical treatment shall not be liable for civil damages resulting from any act or omission in the rendering of such emergency care or in transporting such persons, other than acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, but basically, it protects bystanders that attempt to provide life-saving aid from legal repercussions. While immediately obtaining medical assistance should be the first response in any emergency, if necessary, you can offer life-saving techniques without fear of being sued.
However, the freedom from prosecution depends upon two things. First, you must actually be capable of providing aid in a responsible manner; and no, watching someone give CPR in a movie doesn’t count. Second, if the sufferer refuses assistance, you MUST honor their request, or you will become liable. Always ask someone in need if they require help, and keep in mind that an unresponsive individual is considered to be providing consent.