As a Kentucky resident, you have likely heard countless inspirational stories of everyday heroes saving people in emergency medical situations. Often, these everyday people have never met the person they save, and did not owe that person any special duty to put themselves in danger. Moreover, these “Good Samaritans” never expect payment or even attention. They were simply trying to help a fellow person that was in need out of the goodness of their hearts. But sometimes, people may be hesitant to help, either because they don’t know how to react or out of fear that they will make the situation worse.
In these situations, Kentucky’s “Good Samaritan” laws can provide protection. In Kentucky, those individuals who provide emergency assistance to others in need receive limited protection under the law from being liable in the event that their actions further injure or unintentionally cause the person’s death. The goal of Good Samaritan laws like Kentucky’s is to encourage people to provide assistance in emergency situations without fear of legal repercussions.
Explore Your Legal Options With Kaufman & Stigger
When you see someone in danger, the last thing you should think about is any legal ramifications relating to your actions. However, the threat of potential legal action in emergency situations is very real. So real, in fact, that they sometimes have a chilling effect on a person and their ability to assist a person in need.
There are a variety of different emergencies where this scenario could take place, but it’s helpful to have the experienced and knowledgeable Kentucky attorneys at Kaufman & Stigger on your side. Through their years of experience serving clients throughout Kentucky, they have garnered a strong reputation for fully explaining the law and getting results.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are faced with a lawsuit after simply trying to help another person that was in need, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.
Does Kentucky Have Good Samaritan Laws?
Like a number of other states, Kentucky has Good Samaritan laws on its books. Specifically, Kentucky’s version of the Good Samaritan law was passed in 2000 (and amended in 2015) and outlines the various conditions and scenarios in which a person enjoys protection from a civil lawsuit after trying to help another person that was in a medical emergency.
Kentucky’s statute specifically mentions automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which are meant to help restart someone’s heart. Obviously, these devices are very powerful and, outside of proper training, difficult to use.
In recent years, as the opioid epidemic has become increasingly common–especially in more rural and poor areas of Kentucky–the Good Samaritan law has been extended to protect people who are trying to help someone who is overdosing. In these situations, the person that is attempting to provide care will not be charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Duty to Rescue
The main sticking point around Good Samaritan laws is the “duty to rescue”. A duty to rescue refers to a legal obligation to help someone in need. Whether it be a medical emergency like an overdose, or simply calling 911 after witnessing a car accident in front of you, it’s a commonly held belief that this duty to rescue is the right thing to do.
While that may be true, there is no law or statute in Kentucky that explicitly requires a duty to rescue. However, there are certain scenarios where our Good Samaritan law won’t protect you:
- You created the danger – Sometimes, your actions create a dangerous or hazardous situation that causes another person to be in danger. In these situations, you have a duty to come to that person’s aid. This is the standard duty of care that is present throughout Kentucky’s personal injury law.
- You have a special relationship with the person in danger – Along the same lines as laws that require you or another person to report suspected danger or abuse, Kentucky law provides that if you have a special relationship with a person in danger–such as a teacher-student or caretaker relationship–you have a duty to attempt to rescue this person.
- You began rescue efforts – This portion of the law is a bit confusing. Basically, the Good Samaritan law goes into effect once you begin to administer aid. However, if you continue to do so after a medical professional arrives, for example, you may no longer have that protection because at that point you would be impeding the rescue efforts.
Ultimately, Kentucky’s Good Samaritan laws do not create a duty to act, but they protect you from liability if something goes wrong. However, this protection ends if you act willfully negligent or recklessly with your rescue efforts. At that point, you would be liable for any worsening of injuries that you cause.
What Scenarios Can Cause Danger in Kentucky?
Obviously, there are a number of different scenarios in which a person could find themselves injured or in need of medical aid. Essentially, these scenarios boil down to personal injury claims. In these claims, negligence is the key to determining liability. Thus, if you act outside of your duty of care to keep the other person safe, your actions would be considered negligent and you would be responsible for any damages.
Legal language aside, there are a number of real-world scenarios where you may have to attempt to help someone in need. In Kentucky–and elsewhere–these usually include:
- Vehicle accidents – Vehicle accidents are usually the most common scenario where you or another person would have to quickly provide medical aid to an injured person. They occur in Kentucky every single day, but if you witness one and either don’t help or make it more difficult for emergency technicians to help, you won’t be protected by Good Samaritan law.
- Workplace accidents – Workplace accidents and injuries are quite common, especially in Kentucky. Dangerous occupations like coal mining and construction make up the vast majority of employment in our state, but these occupations are also notoriously dangerous. and if you were injured at work under certain egregious circumstances, the company can be held responsible.
- Drug overdoses – Covered by the 911 Good Samaritan law, drug overdoses protect people that are trying to give medical aid to a person that is overdosing from possession charges. However, especially as the opioid epidemic continues to grip Kentucky, the likelihood that you may have to render aid to a person overdosing is becoming increasingly probable.
Understanding the different situations where you may have to help an injured person is important, but so too is understanding the potential risks that come with acting negligently. While Kentucky’s Good Samaritan law has limited protection from civil lawsuits, it does not prevent a person from filing one against you.
What Damages Are Available in a Personal Injury Claim in Kentucky?
Any personal injury claim in Kentucky entitles the injured person to certain damages. Usually, these damages come in two forms: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are financial losses the person has, while non-economic damages are related to things like emotional trauma.
In a Kentucky personal injury case, the following damages are recoverable:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental suffering, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Any accident-related medical expenses, like hospital bills, medications, surgeries, or assistive devices
- Caregiving or transportation services
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical therapy and mental health treatment
- Loss of wages or the loss of earning potential
- Property damage
Our Kentucky personal injury attorneys will be able to determine which damages you are entitled to receive, and they will also help you in the pursuit of these damages.
Contact Kaufman & Stigger Today To Discuss Your Options
Simply trying to help a person in need is stressful enough on its own, but when there are possible legal ramifications, it can waste valuable seconds in an emergency. While most people will simply react and try to help, others may hesitate. No matter what the reason is for this hesitation, it can be extremely detrimental to the person in need.
At Kaufman & Stigger, our expert Kentucky personal injury lawyers can explain your options if you find yourself in a Good Samaritan situation. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.