We have all done it. We see someone who has had an accident and needs help. We stop and offer assistance. Do we have to stop and render aid? Can we get into any trouble if we do not? What if we stop and render aid and do something wrong? If you actually are involved in the accident, you must stop, ascertain the identity of all involved, identify yourself and render reasonable assistance to any injured persons including ensuring injured persons obtain transport to a physician for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent such treatment is necessary or requested by an injured person. Neb. Rev. Stat. §60-697. If you fail to stop and render aid, you risk not only losing six (6) points off of your driver’s license, but it is also a criminal offense.
If you are not involved in the accident, you are not under an obligation to render aid, however, if you choose to, your actions in rendering aid are protected by the Nebraska Good Samaritan law. Under Nebraska law, no person who renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or other emergency gratuitously, shall be held liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering the emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for medical treatment or care for the injured person. Neb. Rev. Stat. §25-21,186. Nebraska has also afforded civil liability protection to volunteer fire departments and emergency squad personnel as well if they provide aid in good faith and do not act with wanton or willful disregard in their acts or failure to act. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 35-107.
On a federal level, Good Samaritan legislation has been enacted under the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, however this Act only covers the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) when assisting cardiac arrest victims. Whether state or federal law, Good Samaritan laws exist to encourage people to stop and render aid without the fear of a civil lawsuit.
Whether you are protected from civil liability or not, you should never attempt to perform a procedure on another person you are not qualified to perform. If you have not been adequately trained in first aid or CPR, you can actually do more damage than good. If you stop to render aid and the person needing assistance is not in “imminent peril” or immediate danger, call emergency services and wait for them to treat the injured party. If police and emergency personnel are already on the scene of the accident, you should let them handle the situation and not stop.
Remember that the Nebraska law only protects emergency care. If you can reasonably wait for trained medical personnel to arrive, you should always err on the side of caution and allow professionals to treat the injured party.
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