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Good Samaritan Laws in Missouri

In an emergency situation, there likely will not be a doctor, nurse, or some other medical professional around to render aid. Instead, you may be forced to count on the kindness of strangers to help you after an accident or medical emergency. Even those these individuals may have good intentions, their lack of experience or knowledge may end up causing more harm than good.

Good Samaritan laws often protect these first responders in emergency situations. However, Missouri’s Good Samaritan laws only offer civil liability immunity for those who have medical training or experience. In May 2017, Missouri lawmakers also passed a new extension of the Good Samaritan laws that affect those who have overdosed on illegal substances as well. Nonetheless, there is no Good Samaritan law in Missouri that will protect lay people from legal liability if they attempt to render aid to someone who has been injured.

What Are Good Samaritan Laws?

While Good Samaritan laws in many states apply to anyone who renders aid, Missouri law only limits liability for those who have medical training. These individuals include:

  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Nurses
  • Doctors and physician
  • Surgeons
  • Those who have had training with AEDs

The law will limit liability for those persons who are rendering medical care in an emergency. There can be no legal liability for actions or omissions in these situations. However, liability can still be imposed for gross negligence, or willful and wanton acts or omissions. This does not include emergency situations in the hospital; instead, it is designed to apply to situations where the medical professional is not being compensated for his or her services.

Again, Good Samaritan “protection” does not apply to lay people who attempt to render aid and end up causing additional injuries or make matters worse.

Good Samaritan Laws and Medical Malpractice

The Good Samaritan Law essentially limit your ability to assert a medical malpractice claim against first responders. These individuals are acting quickly, usually with no equipment. As such, the law shields them from medical malpractice claims.

Good Samaritan Laws do not apply to emergency personnel that has been dispatched by a hospital or other similar facility, however. Any time that someone is “on the clock” and rendering care, they will likely still be subject to civil liability based on a medical malpractice claim.

Good Samaritan Laws and Overdose Situations

As of August 28, 2017, Good Samaritan laws in Missouri have been extended to circumstances where someone may have overdosed on an illicit drug. This is the first time that this type of law has been extended to criminal law cases.

The new law is designed to encourage those who are aware of someone who has overdosed or may have overdosed to call for medical attention. Many people do not make this call for fear of prosecution for being involved with drugs themselves.

Kathi Arbini was at the forefront of advocating for this new law. Her son died of a heroin overdose in 2009. He was in a friend’s basement for about 17 hours before someone called 911. His friends were too afraid to involve the police or medical professionals. Now, if someone calls 911 because of a drug overdose, they will not be arrested for possession of the illicit drug.

Getting Legal Help After an Accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, it is a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney. If you believe that medical staff made your condition worse or made a mistake, you may also have a medical malpractice claim, even if the injury occurred while they were rendering emergency care. Contact us to discuss your potential legal options.