A good Samaritan is someone who jumps in to help others in an emergency situation. A bystander or medical professional can be a good Samaritan. Good Samaritans often do not have any professional training or a responsibility to help, but they assist anyway, believing it is the right thing to do. In the past, good Samaritans were subject to liability if they accidentally made matters worse in their good-faith rendering of aid. Good Samaritan Laws in Missouri and Kansas offer protections from civil liability.
Revisor of Statutes, State of Missouri, Section 537.037 is the state’s version of the Good Samaritan Law. Under the law, people with medical training or licenses to practice medicine in Missouri will not face civil liability for damages caused during the good-faith rendering of emergency care or assistance. To qualify under the state’s Good Samaritan Law, the individual must have rendered aid without compensation at the scene of an emergency. He or she must have also done so with the good-faith belief that he or she was helping the victim.
The good Samaritan must also not be guilty of gross negligence, wanton disregard for the victim’s safety, or willful harm while assisting during an emergency. The state’s law will not protect individuals from civil liability for damages that arise out of these actions. The law pertains to registered nurses, physicians, surgeons, mobile EMTs, mental health professionals, and anyone with training to provide first aid from a recognized training program. It does not, however, protect bystanders or laypeople from civil liability.
If you render aid as someone without medical training in Missouri, you could face liability for damages you cause. Even if you were helping in good faith, the law may not be on your side. This is true unless you intervene to prevent suicide at the scene, in which case any person (including untrained bystanders) may render good-faith aid without facing civil liability for damages. The law aims to prevent medical malpractice claims against professionals who provided aid in good faith, rather than preventing lawsuits against the average good Samaritan.
New Missouri Law
A new law in Missouri extended the Good Samaritan statute to cover individuals involved in overdose emergencies. As of August 28th, 2017, good Samaritans who call for emergency help during overdose situations will not face prosecution for their own involvement with drugs. The goal of the new law was to encourage people to immediately intervene in drug overdoses by calling the police, without fear of retribution for doing so.
Kansas Good Samaritan Laws
K.S.A. 65-2891 contains Kansas’ Good Samaritan Law. Like Missouri, it only protects healthcare providers from civil liability if damages result from the rendering of good-faith aid in an emergency. It does not protect non-medical professionals from lawsuits. Under the law, a healthcare provider is anyone with a license to practice any branch of the healing arts. This includes physicians, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, assistants, and dentists.
It gives any healthcare provider the right to render emergency care, with or without compensation, until the patient’s physician assumes responsibility for care. The law also states that any healthcare provider may treat a minor in an emergency or injury as a result of a competitive sporting event without obtaining the consent of a parent. Good Samaritans can render this aid without fear of facing liability for civil damages, other than damages that arise out of gross negligence or willful/wanton acts or omissions.
In other words, as long as a healthcare provider renders aid in good faith and does not do anything wanton or negligent to hurt the victim, he or she is safe from liability even if the aid injures the victim. Remember, however, that neither Kansas’ nor Missouri’s Good Samaritan Laws protect non-healthcare providers, except in limited circumstances involving suicide or overdose intervention.