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Good Samaritan Laws in California

Individuals who help those in danger without anything in return are considered Good Samaritans in the state of California. There are a set of laws that protect their rights called Good Samaritan Laws.

Good Samaritan Law allows bystanders exemption from liability if their actions are done in good faith.

Health and Safety Code 1799.102 reads:


(a) No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission. The scene of an emergency shall not include emergency departments and other places where medical care is usually offered. This subdivision applies only to the medical, law enforcement, and emergency personnel specified in this chapter.

Hurley v. Eddingfield establishes that bystanders are not liable for another person’s injury, even when they choose not to assist the person in need. But when someone goes out of their way to help another person with a medical or non-medical situation, they are further protected by good Samaritan law.

Examples of Good Samaritan Law

Examples where good Samaritan law applies include:

  • Diving in a pool to save a child from drowning and performing light CPR
  • Pulling a passenger out of a wrecked car after an accident
  • Reporting the authorities after witnessing a possible drug overdose

What is Protected Under Good Samaritan Law?

Good Samaritan law protects people from liability when their actions are:

  • Done in good faith, and not for pay
  • Providing medical or non-medical assistance during an emergency

Good Samaritans are also protected from “civil damages” under 1799.102 which include:

  • Compensatory Damages
  • Punitive Damages

Before, good Samaritan law only protected medical assistance, but Assembly Bill 83 expanded the law to include nonmedical assistance as well.

What is Not Protected Under Good Samaritan Law?

Individuals are excluded from good Samaritan law if their actions demonstrated gross negligence or wanton misconduct.

Gross negligence is defined as acting with a level of disregard that endangers others and is out of bounds for what a reasonable person would do. 

If a Good Samaritan’s actions demonstrate lack of care and leaves the injured person or in a worse state than before, he or she may be liable for damages.

The Purpose of Good Samaritan Law

Without this law in place, bystanders would be afraid to act when someone is suffering from a personal injury. They would fear legal repercussions despite knowing they have the capabilities to help.

Good Samaritan laws allow people to help victims, knowing their actions will not be punished by the law due to liability concerns.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Will Know When You’re Protected

If you or someone you know assisted someone with a medical or non-medical emergency and you don’t know if you’re liable, speak with West Coast Trial Lawyers! Our team is dedicated to protecting your rights, and the $1.5 billion we’ve won for our clients is proof. Schedule a free consultation at 213-996-0790 and one of our expert attorneys will hear your case.

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