Sunday, December 21, 2008
Unless you are judgment proof, do not render unsolicited aid in California. It could cost you big time.
The law, by the way, is an ass.
We have needed Tort reform in this country for over 50 years. At least from California's perspective, we won't get it until it is way to late. I just got my Governor's Office of Emergency Service certification six months ago. Now I am thinking that I need to resign and send the card back to the Governor. All I will do is inspect buildings after an earthquake, and that is not "medical" so I am wide open based on this ruling. Right now, my opinion of Judge Moreno and the legal profession in general is not printable.
Couldn't this ruling have waited until after Christmas?
FWIW, it's a partial reversion to common law that's been around for generations. Good Samaritan legislation are modern innovations.
At common law the Good Samaritan had no liability whatsoever. Good Samaritan legislation is a legislative response to the vast expansion of the tort regime by the courts.
I'm a physician skilled in trauma surgery...and if I were practicing in California I would purchase a set of blinders so that I could drive past accident scenes and not feel like a worm for not stopping.
In situations like this it places your personal ethics on one shoulder...and the well being of your wife and kids and business on the other.
One's malpractice insurance will also likely NOT cover these circumstances.
That's NOT what you want a doctor thinking as he drives past your accident scene. We all know it is a short hop from litigating against a private citizen who is a Good Samaritan to litigating against ANYBODY who administers such care.
Such is the case in this legal hell hole that we have created.
I saw this posted on another blog a couple of days ago. That blogger said that in CA you can also be sued for NOT rendering assistance. Heads the lawyers win, tails the peasants lose. A sterling example of why the hoi polloi has such a low opinion of lawyers.
Par for the course. California's political culture is highly dysfunctional.
Process v. Results, and Process will win every time. I'm sure the legislators who put this shit into law think that, surely, the poor sap who gets sued will be found innocent, so no harm done.
Randian - I believe you're wrong on common law and Good Samaritan liability, but I welcome a citation.
JP - the Good Samaritan exception still applies to providing emergency medical services. The woman who yanked her friend out of the car was found not to be providing medical services.
Brian, The woman in this case clearly thought she was saving the victim's life. The court found otherwise...AFTER THE FACT.
If I try to assist EMT's at a scene by doing a roadside endotrachial intubation (which I HAVE done) and the patient is found to have a cervical spine injury...under this ruling,at least in California, a case could easily be made AFTER THE FACT that I am liable for the poor outcome.
Liability law, as in the case discussed, doesn't have to make sense as the burden of "proof" is legal, not scientific.
This we have Dow Corning held "liable" for "injuries" from Silicone breast implants without a SHRED of medical evidence, then or now, that such injuries exist.
We have a massive "asbestos" legal industry successfully litigating against companies for "victims" with transient, innocuous asbestos exposure and no medical injury.
We have trial lawyers "channeling" Cerebral Palsy victims for the theatrical amusement of juries, who then award millions in liability against obstetricians who have absolutely no culpability in this random and unpreventable birth defect.
We have a cottage legal industry that correlates an abnormal APGAR score at birth with behavioural problems of teens, ADD, poor math SAT scores and successfully litigating against the obstetrician who delivered the teen aged slacker.
I could go on and on...but the point is that professional people can no longer rely on the courts to use common sense and scientific expertise to protect them from outrageous liability.
I will no doubt continue to stop at accidents and assist, as I have done countless times in the past, but I will think twice....and that's NOT GOOD.