Will It Become A Crime In Florida To Avoid Assisting Someone In Need?
Under proposed changes to Florida’s Good Samaritan law, if you fail to call for help for someone who is in distress, you could be charged with a crime. The inspiration for the proposed change to the law involved the death of an 18-year-old who was supposedly left too close to a pond by his friends when he was drunk, after which he fell down and could not get himself out of the water.
While Florida already has a Good Samaritan law that encourages people to provide aid in an effort to protect themselves from civil lawsuits, these proposed bills would go an extreme step further. While one makes it a crime to fail to assist someone, another would simply require you to provide aid if you cause an accident that injures someone.
Current Good Samaritan Law
Florida’s current Good Samaritan law does not mandate a duty to assist, but rather, imposes a duty to exercise reasonable care if you begin to provide assistance to someone under the reasonable person standard. Specifically, the law protects you from civil damages as long as you exercise due care, do not increase harm to the person you are assisting, and the person you are assisting does not suffer an injury as the result of your actions.
However, if you are a healthcare provider providing assistance, you can only be held liable if you act with reckless disregard, or in a way such that a reasonable professional in your same position would have known it would create an unreasonable risk of injury to the person you are assisting. You also need to have been providing that assistance without the objection of the injured victim. Every emergency facility is charged by Florida law to accept and treat all emergency care patients without regard for their ability to pay.
In addition, the law provides limited immunity when it comes to being charged with a drug crime if you seek help for suffering related to a drug overdose.
Florida Has Tried This Before
The Florida state legislature has addressed this issue before: Two years ago, a disabled man drowned in a pond while five teenage onlookers watched and recorded it. There was then a backlash when the state attorney indicated that there were no criminal laws that would allow him to pursue charges against the teens in conjunction with their behavior.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys to Find Out More
If you have been charged under a state criminal law that goes too far, just so that the state attorney can set an example, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.