Good Samaritan law: K’taka shows way

Karnataka can be justifiably proud of being the first state in the country to put in place a ‘Good Samaritan’ law.’ With President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent recently to the Karnataka Good Samaritan and Medical Professional (Protection and Regulation during Emergency Situations) Bill 2016, the legislation is now ready for implementation. The new law should encourage more bystanders to come forward to help victims of road accidents and other emergencies by rushing them to hospitals for treatment. Hitherto, potential ‘Good Samaritans’ were deterred from extending such help, notwithstanding their good intentions. Hospital authorities would not allow them to leave the hospital unless they paid for the victim’s treatment. Often, they were harassed by the police and detained for hours on end for questioning. They were expected to then stand witness in court. Helping a road accident victim had thus become a thankless task that many preferred to avoid. This resulted in victims often dying on the road. That should now change with the enactment and full implementation of the new law.

Under this law, a ‘Good Samaritan’ will be freed from harassment by hospital authorities, the police and courts. He can leave immediately after admitting the victim at a hospital and will not need to make repeated trips to the police station or courts. If his presence at a court is necessary, his expenses will be met from a ‘Good Samaritan Fund’. Importantly, all government and private hospitals are required to provide at least first aid treatment to the accident victim. Freed from the fear of criminal or civil liability or harassment of any sort, more bystanders can be expected to rush accident victims to hospital henceforth. The law could make a big difference in Karnataka. In 2016 alone, the state witnessed 11,000 people die in road accidents. Many of these lives could have been saved had the victims been rushed to hospital immediately.

Unlike Karnataka, which now has a strong law to protect those who wish to help accident victims, ‘Good Samaritans’ elsewhere in the country can only hope for support from guidelines that the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways issued on this matter in July 2015. Support from ministerial ‘guidelines’ is at best wishy-washy; what is needed is a strong law. Bystander help can play a big role in reducing fatalities from road accidents, especially when this help is extended immediately. Indeed, according to the Law Commission’s 201st Report, such fatalities can be reduced by 50% with help in the ‘Golden Hour’. Other states must draw inspiration from Karnataka and follow its lead to enact and implement legislation to protect ‘Good Samaritans’.

Liked the story?

  • 5

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

Good Samaritan law: K’taka shows way

0 comments

Write the first review for this !