View Full Version : Good Samaritan, how to protect yourself?
October 12th, 2009, 07:29 AM
I was taking an after dinner walk in around in my neighborhood, when I notice an old lady on the ground by her wheel chair. She was waving her arms in the air on top of a foam pad. I couldn’t tell if she was doing yoga or needed help. Very odd, she didn’t seem like she was in a panic.
So I kept on walking but slowed down my pace keeping an eye on her. She spots me and says in a monotone voice, “Excuse me sir, I think I fell again. Can you please help me up?” I say “Oh…o gosh sure sure.” I check my surroundings and come over to help her. She seems a bit fragile, I was wondering the best safe way to pull her up. She notices me hesitate a bit and tells me instead to ring the doorbell to get her husband. I call her husband and I’m off my merry way.
It got me thinking as a good Samaritan, how can you protect yourself while helping others? I think I read in a yahoo article once where two co-workers were driving together to lunch and they got into a car accident. The driver got hurt and co-worker who was still okay, quickly got the driver out in fear that it would catch fire as the car started to smoke. They ended up pulling their muscle in the process or something and sued them… and if they person left them to possibly to burn…that wouldn’t be good either. Any ideas?
October 12th, 2009, 08:37 AM
man wtf,protecting yourself to help? come on.....oh wait,america and lawsuits..
October 12th, 2009, 11:02 AM
Carnifex I think it would be more appropriate to say "wtf" to people suing those who just helped them...not the other way around? Maybe instead of being critical of people who are willing to help. Why not offer a reasonable solution? Personally I'm not going to be spooked away from helping people, but it's just something to consider. It is not like in the comics where the hero can just run in to save the day, not everything goes to plan.
Here are a few examples. What would you have done in this situation in the link below?
Bank teller gets fired for chasing down would-be bank robber, holding him for police
I just don't think people who help other's in need should be unreasonable punished. Food for thought.
October 12th, 2009, 11:43 AM
You know. This is a really good question.
Something somewhat similar happened to me about a week or so ago.
I was riding my bicycle home from the subway station like I do every night after work. I ride my bike pretty fast, but I'm always cautious because traffic here is a nightmare, and most of the streets aren't lit.
I was riding on a broad empty street that runs in front of my apartment building and it was late dusk. Not night-time dark, but not very bright either and as I was riding suddenly an old woman on a large cargo tricycle who was riding the opposite direction coming towards me in the other lane suddenly changes course and crosses my path. I yelled and rang my little bike bell and hit both brakes, the front brake predictably locks and i skid into her tricycle, and with my momentum the rear of the bike lifts up and I almost go over the trike, thankfully I got it under control.
This is where it gets hazy though. From my perspective she is at fault here for swerving directly into an oncoming vehicle (my bike) but on the other hand this is howpeople seems to drive here typically it seems, she may have really not seen me coming because she is old after all, and the twilight is not very bright and she might have just been unaware of other people on the road. But this raises even more questions.
Anyway. After I slammed into her bike I checked myself to make sure none of the expensive shit I was carrying was lost or broken, since I clearly was not hurt. Everything OK so I go and check her. When I hid her I hid the rear of her trike, and the way this kind of bike is designed that kind of impact simply does not allow a person to fall off, but when I look at her she is sitting on the ground bellowing incoherently. My Chinese is ok, and I tried talking to her asking her if she's ok, if she needs some help or anything like that, but she is just sitting there legs crossed Indian style arms thrown to the sky going on and on completely incoherently and after asking her several more times if she needed help I realized that she was telling me to give her some money and I got furious. It was at this time why the whole thing seemed fishy to me and that was that as I was checking myself I clearly saw her sneak off her bike and sit down on the ground facing me. the fact that she was facing me is what made this so fishy to me, because her trike was behind me, and any fall that she may have experienced from the impact would have left her laying down with her legs caught up on the seat and pedals.
Upset, I turn and mount my bike, complaining about the damage caused to the front end of my bike and totally confused as to what I should be doing about the situation. At that moment I first noticed the small crowd of people that had begun to gather, the old woman still on the ground arms to the sky babblng about this that and the other, some of the people staring at her, some staring at me. I ride the rest of the short distance to my house, and spend the next few days mulling everything over in my mind and wondering what the appropriate response might have been since none of the information that I took in while at the scene was 100% solid, except that she suddenly swerved in front of me, the front of my bike got smashed up a bit, and she asked me for money afterwards which made the whole thing suspicious to me.
October 12th, 2009, 12:06 PM
Sepulverture: Glad both of you guys were relatively okay from bike run-in. It was good you checked up on yourself and her. My assumption is the bump wasn't that bad and after all. It sounds like she started to collected her thoughts and she wanted to guilt you into giving her money.
You tried to help her back up, but what she really wanted was a free atm? I don't think that's the normal response of an injured person, pretty fishy. I would said I have no money to give, but offer to take her to hospital if she needed it.(Though she might have kept babbling) That reminds me I should get a bike light.
October 12th, 2009, 01:48 PM
Sepulverture - Hehe sounds like she (and maybe even some of the bystanders) tried to con you. Your reaction was 100% correct.
Pigeonkill - In my country there is a law which obligates you to help people who are in danger, but only if the danger to your own person is acceptable.
After all, we don't want 10 people to drown in a swamp when it started out with only one.
Or getting stung by bees:
October 12th, 2009, 02:28 PM
It all depends on the situation, but I'll usually go in like a bull at a gate. Can be scary when the person stops breathing.
October 12th, 2009, 04:13 PM
In my country there is a law which obligates you to help people who are in danger, but only if the danger to your own person is acceptable.
I don't like the sound of that.
I remember a year ago a woman was raped at night on the subway. The rapist got away, but two employees were sued for not doing anything more than calling police.
So the rapist gets away, yet they're forced into court?
October 12th, 2009, 04:24 PM
There IS actually a law called... Wait for it... The "Good Samaritan law"!
Basically, if you're trying to help someone out of a burning car and you accidentally make their injury worse, they cannot sue you in any way. Same goes for helping someone with CPR etc etc.
More info there... Though, she didn't seem "injured" just unable to get into her wheel chair, so what you did was probably the best of decisions unless she gave you full permission to lift her.
You did the right thing though imo...
October 12th, 2009, 04:34 PM
Your chances of getting sued are probably just as likely as helping someone, finding out they are a billionaire and inheriting their vast fortune.
Srsly don't be a dick help old people in need you jerk.
October 12th, 2009, 06:16 PM
Keeviin / Black Spot That's great that some countries encourage people to help within reason. It's good just jump in to help when you can.
hippl5 That's a bummer that two employee still got in trouble even though they did help. I wouldn't expect the two employees to run out like Superman and hunt down the rapist. But if they happen to have a description of the bad person that would have been great.
TheBullion24K Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
DeadlyFreeze...Instead of jumping on the band wagon and name calling, did you actually read what was posted? The old lady was helped, she thanked me. I highly doubt I would get in trouble for helping. *shrug* I thought it would be an interesting and helpful topic for everyone to read. Around the world there are stronger communities because they don't have issues like the one's listed above.
October 12th, 2009, 07:17 PM
Actually all you said was 'you called her husband'. For all we know the husband is equally old and fragile as she is.
I think its a safe bet to say that he wasn't able to help her up, instead falling to the ground and breaking a hip. Hours later they both succumb to the elements. Their blood is on your hands.... jerk:D
October 12th, 2009, 07:42 PM
Not just lawsuits, but I find there is alot nowadays deterring people from helping one another. A few year's back I was walking home from a friend's after the superbowl and saw a guy lying in the snow. it was pretty close to midnight and hard to see. I remember starting to run over to help, but then I notice there was'nt around of disturbance to the snow around him or anything. Not like he felt and struggled or tried to move, but like he just laid down. This was in an alleyway behind 2 schools. So I stopped to call my friend who was'nt far as I started walking towards the guy on the ground. When I started talking on the phone, the guy got up and ran. And a few other guys ran out from behind a fance with him. I guess they were setting up some kind of ambush or something to get my money. But it got me thinking how now anytime I see someone in need of help, it's always going to make me assume they're pulling some kind of dirty trick.
October 12th, 2009, 08:03 PM
What kind of world has it become, that people with the best intentions have to fear getting sued for helping someone?
October 12th, 2009, 10:43 PM
Just some moments ago I changed coins with a total stranger, you know what he gave me in exchange for some coins?, a fake bill... If i had said "no, I have no coins", I could have kept my money and no one would have made a fool of myself, but since I wanted to help I took the chance, you got to take chances, risk yourself if you want to help others, you also have to give something from yourself, sacrifice a little bit, or too much, in order to help others, bad things have to happen to you once in a while, that's the risk you take in order to help others, that's the price, it's worth it.
PS: It was not a fake bill after all, it just was extremely new and un-used.
October 13th, 2009, 01:05 AM
Most states have Good Samaritan laws protecting against that. For example, if you perform CPR and the person doesn't come to, or you break their ribs in the process, you can't be held liable, and the same applies to other forms of first aid.
Um, you better make sure first that the individual really needs it tho... if you didn't give her a bit of a shake and check that shes ok then your excuse that you "thought the pretty girl napping in the park needed 'rescue breathing'" won't hold up too well against a sexual harassment suit.
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