Legal implications of helping out as a first responder

I talked with a chaser friend last season after we had a rather scary chase in southern Nebraska after nightfall. We were driving towards a town that had a strong rotation couplet over it and we didn't know what to expect when we got there. In the end it was all fine but we started talking about what to do as a first responder after a tornado has struck. My instinct would probably be to try to help people but my friend mentioned it is not all that easy in the US due to legal reasons (I am from Sweden myself where law suits are quite rare in comparison).

He mentioned that if you, as a non-professional with no CPR-training, help "Mr Smith" out of the debris in an effort to save his life you are legally responsible for him, or something (my interpretation). Also, if you try to help him and accidentally hurt him further (for example, if he has a neck injury) you can also risk legal repercussions. Another example is if you try to get someone out of a crashed house and in that effort make the house come down further and, in a worst case scenario, kill the person.

Still, I don't think this would stop me from trying to help anyway but it would be interesting to understand the legal implications more. What would you do, or not do, as a first responder?
 
I talked with a chaser friend last season after we had a rather scary chase in southern Nebraska after nightfall. We were driving towards a town that had a strong rotation couplet over it and we didn't know what to expect when we got there. In the end it was all fine but we started talking about what to do as a first responder after a tornado has struck. My instinct would probably be to try to help people but my friend mentioned it is not all that easy in the US due to legal reasons (I am from Sweden myself where law suits are quite rare in comparison).

He mentioned that if you, as a non-professional with no CPR-training, help "Mr Smith" out of the debris in an effort to save his life you are legally responsible for him, or something (my interpretation). Also, if you try to help him and accidentally hurt him further (for example, if he has a neck injury) you can also risk legal repercussions. Another example is if you try to get someone out of a crashed house and in that effort make the house come down further and, in a worst case scenario, kill the person.

Still, I don't think this would stop me from trying to help anyway but it would be interesting to understand the legal implications more. What would you do, or not do, as a first responder?
You need to ask "May I help you." Although sometimes people might be unresponsive, you still should ask that, especially if there is anyone else around you to hear. Good Sumaritan laws will almost always protect you in that case. It might seem trivial if lives are at stake, but I've been through many years of training on this subject, and studied law suits. No one has been penalized for doing the right thing if you can honestly say you asked that question first.

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You need to ask "May I help you." Although sometimes people might be unresponsive, you still should ask that, especially if there is anyone else around you to hear. Good Sumaritan laws will almost always protect you in that case. It might seem trivial if lives are at stake, but I've been through many years of training on this subject, and studied law suits. No one has been penalized for doing the right thing if you can honestly say you asked that question first.

Thanks, both of you. I am glad that this is the case!
 
Good Sumaritan laws will protect you..... but... you can still be hauled into court. This has happened to me although I was not the subject(s) of interest. I no longer stop at accidents unless I believe there is a life and death reason. Most importantly, never leave your name with anyone. When you are done, leave.

Edit: I should also note that with police, paramedic and other body / vehicle / private cams, it's very likely you will be recorded if anyone else is at the scene. I assisted at a accident once and they actually produced pictures of me assisting, although I was not involved with the legal proceedings.
 
I have to say, I agree with Warren unless you actually witness the accident, (when your eye witness account could be very valuable), help out if you can to the level you are trained to and then leave without leaving your name. With today’s sue happy society there is too much possible downside to leaving your name.
 
Hmmm, not as easy as it seems then. But I guess the two major advices are: "Don't say your name" and "Ask: May I help you". I think in a situation in which I would be the first (and possibly only) responder - as was the case in Nebraska - I would not refrain from helping no matter what as I guess most chasers would.
 
I just became certified through the Red Cross as a pro rescuer and for sure there are good Samaritan laws. But one of the first things the class taught was that once you size up the scene you must gain consent from the person to help them. Consent can be attained from a verbal yes or even a gesture. If the victim is unconscious then you are able to help without consent because the good Samaritan laws call this implied consent. If the victim is under the age of 18 then you must gain consent from the parent/guardian. I think though that what youll find is that nobody will not want you to help them.
 
Nobody will not want you to help them. The problem comes later when dollar signs come floating in. Always do what you are trained to do, and maybe more in a pinch. Never leave someone hanging. When it’s done though, get the hell out of there and NEVER give your name and address. It’s great to help out, but there are too many jackasses in the world to take the chance of having your family bankrupted by an ungrateful money hungry jerkoff.
 
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