Question: What is the “Good Samaritan Law”?
Answer: It provides certain protections for rendering aid in emergency situations.
These statutes encourage physicians, and sometimes others, including laypersons, to render emergency care at the scene of an accident without fear of common law liability if they fail to exercise reasonable care when providing the emergency care. On its face, Indiana’s Good Samaritan Law applies to any person who, gratuitously and in good faith, renders emergency care: 1) at the scene of an accident; or 2) to the victim thereof. It is clear then that only persons who render emergency care at the scene or to victims of an accident are entitled to the law’s immunity.
However, Indiana courts have concluded that the legislature did not intend the law to apply to all emergencies. The courts have noted the distinction between an “accident” and an “emergency” is that an accident is a single discrete event causing unexpected consequences, while an emergency is a condition that has unexpectedly arisen. An “emergency” can be thought of as the effect of an “accident,” but not all emergencies are the result of accidents, as the condition could develop from a gradual series of events, and all accidents do not necessarily create emergencies. “Emergency” has a broader scope than “Accident” and the terms are not synonymous. Therefore, as used in the Good Samaritan Law, we conclude the legislature intended “accident” to mean a type of sudden calamitous event.