Ok - go and get a cup of tea... this is a little complex and in many countries is not
clear. However, a lack of clarity should not stop lives being saved. We are doing
all we can to provide up to date information, but please check specific
circumstances in your country.
Remember, by following the code of conduct
you are highly unlikely to be criticised.
Situation in the UK:
In a study conducted by the Institute of Volunteering Research
it was found that
47% of 300 people felt the worry about risk/liability was a reason for not
Because of this, amendments have recently been put forward for the Social
Action, Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015
(there is not an actual Good
Samaritan Act in the England / Wales).
However, there is no complete protection from litigation from performing a
Good Samaritan Act. Because of this, in conjunction with London Ambulance
Service, we have written out code of conduct
. If followed then the chances of
successful litigation are extremely small.
We have endeavoured to establish if there is a specific indemnity policy available
and are continuing to do so. You may wish to enquire with your local first aid
organisation to see if they provide indemnity. The association of first aiders
provides indemnity for Good Samaritan Acts, though it is not yet clear if this
covers acts resulting from alerting by an App. Although the MPS consider acting
as a Responder to the App falls within the definition of a Good Samaritan Act (see
below), please check with individual indemnity providers.
Your current medical indemnity probably covers you for Good Samaritan Acts,
but please check. The Medical Protection Society have kindly provided the
"The MPS considers that the action of members acting as Responders to the
GoodSam app will fall within our definition of a Good Samaritan act provided
that the member complies with the GoodSam app Code of Conduct"
Duty of Care:
Another concern that has been raised relates to a duty of care. What if you don't
go to an alert?
There are many reasons you may not be able to go to an alert - you may not hear
your phone, you may be working already or in a situation that prevents you from
going (for example you may not be able to leave your children), or you may have
had alcohol in which case you would have a duty NOT to go.
Because this technology has not been considered in law yet, no such cases have
arisen. However, this is not the same as witnessing an accident or someone in
distress. The statutory services will still have been notified and will be en route.
Please see the Blog by Professor Michael Eburn
which while based in Australia,
probably has similarities to the UK. In response to his last points regarding not
responding, GoodSAM has a very clear data policy and no data will be shared
unless explicitly required by law.
Most Australian states and territories have some form of Good Samaritan
protection. In general these offer protection if care is made in good faith, and the
"Good Samaritan" is not impaired by drugs or alcohol. Variations exist between
states, from not applying if the "Good Samaritan" is the cause of the problem
(NSW), to applying under all circumstances if the attempt is made in good faith
For a detailed recent review, please see this excellent Blog by Professor Michael Eburn
The details of Good Samaritan laws/acts vary by jurisdiction, including who is
protected from liability and under what circumstances. Not all jurisdictions
provide protection to laypersons, some only protect trained personnel, such as
doctors or nurses and EMS workers such as paramedics, police and fire staff.