Arkansas has a Good Samaritan law that offers protections for trained professionals as well as individuals without special training. Good Samaritan laws protect those who provide aid and assistance to someone who has been hurt or is having a medical issue. These laws generally only apply in an emergency situation.
You can provide aid in an emergency in Arkansas without worrying about your civil liability. However, if someone who provided aid acted negligently and did not put forth their best effort or there were other issues that caused you injuries, you may want to consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer about your options.
The Arkansas Good Samaritan Law
Arkansas’ Good Samaritan law is primarily focused on protections for health care workers, according to Ark. Code § 17-95-101. This law prevents victims from suing and holding health care providers who volunteer to provide care in an emergency legally responsible for any injuries that occur.
However, this statute also includes a section for citizens who help, regardless of their training or background. This section offers them protections when they are on the scene of an emergency or accident and:
- Believe that the person’s life or safety is in danger and they cannot wait for first responders, and that they are capable of taking reasonable action to help; and
- Lend aid in good faith, working to try to remove the threat to the person’s life or health.
These individuals are not liable for any injuries or damages for any action they took or did not take as long as they acted in good faith. They may still be responsible for any injuries resulting from gross negligence or willful misconduct.
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Why Are Good Samaritan Laws Important?
Before Good Samaritan laws, many people—including doctors and other trained health professionals—were hesitant to get involved in an emergency situation. If something went wrong or their actions led to injuries in some way, they might have been held liable. The victim or their family could have sued and taken them to court despite the fact they were trying to save a life or help them survive the accident.
Lawmakers wanted to encourage people to help. Having those with health care training on the scene but refusing to give aid because of civil liability did not help anyone. These laws make it more likely that bystanders and witnesses will render first aid until paramedics arrive. This aid can be vital in some situations.
Good Samaritan legislation will not necessarily stop someone from filing a civil lawsuit, but it makes it easier for the aid provider to get a summary judgment or win the case and legal fees. Because law firms understand how these statutes work and that most people offering aid are protected, most lawsuits of this type never occur.
These Laws Initially Protected Physicians
One reason the Arkansas law focuses on medical professionals is that this was the initial reason for these laws. They protected physicians and other health care providers when they offered aid in emergency situations outside of their hospital or clinic.
As the years have gone on, more and more of these cases have gone before courts nationwide, and many of them have expanded case law to cover citizens who provide aid regardless of their history of health care training. Some states, including Arkansas, have made changes to their statute to reflect these protections.
What If Someone Acted Negligently in Providing My Care?
There are some situations when a good samaritan can be held legally responsible for additional injuries they caused. This can be difficult to prove. While those rendering aid do have protections from civil action in Arkansas, they cannot act intentionally or with willful negligence and hurt you.
If you believe this happened in your case, you may have up to three years to sue per Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-105. However, exceptions may shorten this time frame. Missing your applicable deadline could cause you to lose the opportunity to recover any compensation in your case.
Your attorney will work with you to determine all the liable parties in your case, including whether you may have a case against the person who provided negligent care at the scene. Because of the difficulty holding good samaritans liable (or showing they were not good samaritans under the Arkansas law), you will want to have a law firm on your side.
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At the Morris Bart law firm, our team provides free case consultations for those who suffered injuries caused by someone else’s negligent behavior in Arkansas. We have 15 locations in the Gulf South, including two in Arkansas: Little Rock and Texarkana. We only charge our clients a contingency fee. You will not need to pay anything up front.
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