WASHINGTON — QUESTION:
Are there laws to protect good Samaritans who help during a natural disaster?
Yes, all 50 states have some version of a good Samaritan law in effect.
- Brian Douglas: Brian M. Douglas and Associates, LLC.
During the storm, you can turn to our Verify squad to get you answers to all the things you're questioning.
When hurricanes like Dorian happen, we always hear about community members jumping into action to help those in crisis. And in an emergency, anything can happen.
So are there any laws to protect good Samaritans who jump in during a disaster?
To get the answer, we checked state law and spoke to Brian Douglas, a civil litigation attorney.
So, all 50 states have some version of a Good Samaritan law in effect. Which means if someone renders aid to a person in need and does their best to try and help them, they should legally be protected.
"Know that you’re covered by good Samaritan laws as long as you’re acting in good faith and you didn’t cause the emergency that put people in danger," Douglas said. "As long as though two things are true, you’re protected from any liability resulting from your actions even if you fail to rescue them, make a mistake or unfortunately don’t even save their lives."
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Now most states, including D.C., Maryland and Virginia don't require that bystanders must rescue others they find in need. But there are some exceptions, like in Wisconsin, Rhode Island,and Minnesota.
If you’re at the scene of an emergency in Minnesota, and you know someone is in physical harm or could be hurt, you have a duty to give reasonable assistance -- like calling the police. If not, you can face up to $1,000 fine.
So, we can verify yes, civilians that give aid those in need during a natural disaster are protected by good Samaritan laws.
To find out what the specific perimeters of good Samaritan laws in your state, click here.