I like my Bourke Accounting co-workers – because of this, I really hope none of them choke, have a cardiac episode or experience any incident that requires first aid. My first aid skills consist of poking the victim with a stick until he wakes up or until someone takes my stick (I am good at sewing, so I might be able to, fashionably, help with a cut).
We’ve all heard horror stories about people who have been sued after providing lifesaving first aid. Sometimes, a rib is cracked when CPR is administered; personally, I would forgo litigation if I could trade a cracked rib for my life. There are some cases of victims suing would-be saviors, however, that leave us totally confused.
For example, in 2004, Lisa Torti was following co-worker Alexandra Van Horn home from a party. The driver of Van Horn’s car hit a pole. Torti believed that an explosion was imminent when she saw liquid and smoke pouring from the vehicle. So, Torti pulled a barely responsive Van Horn from the car. The accident left Van Horn a paraplegic. However, Van Horn sued Torti, “asserting Torti worsened her injury by…yanking her out of the car ‘like a rag doll’” (Reviewjournal.com). The California Supreme Court decided that Van Horn could sue “because Good Samaritan protection was only for those administering medical care” (People.howstuffworks.com). As a result of this ruling, however, the state legislature ended up changing the law to protect non-medical people providing aid (Reviewjournal.com).
I had never given much thought to Good Samaritan laws. However, after, the insanely cool, Marianna Perry of AEDs & Safety Services, LLC gave a seminar at Bourke Accounting and mentioned these laws, I became curious. Because people had become leery of helping each other, lawmakers acted to protect well-meaning bystanders. For example, in Kentucky, under KRS § 311.668 (2009), anyone who uses, in good faith, an AED on a victim “shall be immune from civil liability for any personal injury” (Recreation-law.com).
Now, there are some limits to this law. This law doesn’t apply if the victim is injured from “the gross negligence or willful…misconduct” (Answers.uslegal.com) of the person giving aid. Basically, if the guy next to you is choking and you stab him 7 times in the legs to dislodge that potato stuck in his throat, you might have to chat with some people in authority.
Good Samaritan laws have been modified to also protect drug abusers in many states. This law, called 911 Good Samaritan law, “prioritize[s] the victim’s safety and resuscitation over arresting drug users” (KYHRC.org). What this means is, that after a heavy night of partying, if someone happens to turn blue, the rest of the partygoers are protected from arrest when calling for medical care for their azure pal. No one likes the idea of drug abuse, but I think we all appreciate second chances.
I like Good Samaritan laws. Once, in Colorado, I choked on a piece of steak. The guy next to me jumped up and performed the Heimlich. Little buddy saved my life and wouldn’t even accept a drink in return (I believe I was drooling at the time). Had this guy worried about litigation, rather than the life of a fellow human, would he have been so eager to help? I like to think he would have, but it’s nice to know he was protected, too.
I am in the minority when it comes to first aid knowledge at Bourke Accounting. If you choke on chips during an appointment with your Bourke Accounting bookkeeper or tax preparer, you better believe they’ll save your life. Not only do Bourke Accounting experts provide you with the best in financial advice and guidance, they can also do the Heimlich without shattering your ribcage.
Written by Sue H.