Good Samaritan Law
Road accidents continue to be a leading cause of death, disabilities and hospitalization in the country despite our commitment and efforts. India ranks first in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries and accounts for almost 11% of the accident-related deaths in the World. The Law Commission of India in its 201st report stated that 50% road crash victims who lost their lives could have been saved if they would have received care on time.
In India, there is no Efficient Emergency Medical Services. So, the bystanders can play a crucial role in saving lives. However, these bystanders prefer making videos on their mobile phones and showing their concern on social media instead of helping these crash victims. They avoid helping the victims as they fear legal repercussions and procedural issues including harassment by the police and medical practitioners.
The World Health Organization in its report titled ‘Prehospital Trauma Care Systems’ has stated that bystanders must feel empowered to act towards helping the injured and be confident that they would not face any legal liability as a result of their actions.
A Good Samaritan is a person who, in good faith, without expectation of payment or reward and without any duty of care or special relationship, voluntarily comes forward to administer immediate assistance or emergency care to a person injured in an accident, or crash, or emergency medical condition, or emergency situation.
MoRTH definition: A Good Samaritan is a person who, in good faith, without expectation of payment or reward and without any duty of care or special relationship, voluntarily comes forward to administer immediate assistance or emergency care to a person injured in an accident, or crash, or emergency medical condition, or emergency situation (https://www.morth.nic.in/good-samaritan)
MVA definition (Explanation): A person, who in good faith, voluntarily and without expectation of any reward or compensation renders emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance at the scene of an accident to the victim or transports such victim to the hospital.
Section134A : A Good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of the victim of an accident involving a motor vehicle, where such injury or death resulted from the Good Samaritan’s negligence in acting or failing to act while rendering emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance.
Indian Legal Regime
Supreme Court decision - SaveLIFE Foundation & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Anr.
The Supreme Court directed the Central Government to issue the Guidelines to protect Good Samaritans
In 2015, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) notified the Guidelines.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of India provided the ‘force of law’ to the said Guidelines under Article 141 of the Indian Constitution. Consequently, making the guidelines legally binding on all States and Union Territories in India and instituting a Good Samaritan Law for India.
Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act 2019
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, inserted a new section 134A, named "Protection of good Samaritans" which provides that a Good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of the victim of an accident.
Sec 134A- (1) A Good Samaritan shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of the victim of an accident involving a motor vehicle, where such injury or death resulted from the Good Samaritan’s negligence in acting or failing to act while rendering emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance.
(2) The Central Government may by rules provide for the procedure for questioning or examination of the Good Samaritan, disclosure of personal information of the Good Samaritan and such other related matters.
State Government notifications Orders and guidelines issued by The Department of Commerce & Transport, Govt. of Odisha (including SOP)
Orders and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & Welfare (including SOP)
Poor Awareness of Good Samaritan Law
84% people are not aware of the Good Samaritan Law
76% of medical professionals reported that no action was taken against professionals who did not comply with the Good Samaritan Law
59% Good Samaritans reported being detained by Police despite the Law due to lack of awareness
77% people stated that hospitals unnecessarily detained Good Samaritans and were asked to pay hospital registration fees and other charges
Bystanders' clear support is essential to enhance the chances of survival of a victim in the 'Golden Hour' i.e. the first hour of getting injured.
Hospitals unnecessarily detain the Good Samaritans or bystanders due to the lack of knowledge regarding Good Samaritan Law.
Over 70,000 lives can be potentially saved if bystanders come forward to help in our country.
Symposium on Good Samaritan Law
A Training Programme on Good Samaritan Law to Doctors, Health Workers and Paramedics. In Odisha we have completed this programme in Cuttack District 1st time. The primary objective of the training was to build the capacity of Doctors, Paramedics & Health Workers of all Govt Hospitals in Cuttack district by imparting knowledge on the Good Samaritan Law, its legal framework, SOP and practices.
Before starting each training session, we evaluated the awareness level, current practice, legal knowledge, etc of each participant i.e. Doctors, Paramedics & Health Workers.
90% Doctors, Paramedics and Health Workers of Cuttack District were not aware about Good Samaritan Law and the SOP of State Govt. issued on 27.01.2018.
Not a single participant had ever attended any capacity building programme on Good Samaritan Law. No capacity building programme was arranged by their authorities.
100% Doctor & Paramedics said that Good Samaritan Law was never a part of their induction programme.
95% Doctors & Paramedics said they asked Name, Address, Contact details of Good Samaritans or By-standers.
98% Doctors & Paramedics did not provide any acknowledgement to the Good Samaritans or By-standers if they required.
100% Doctors & Paramedics did not intimate the contact details of Good Samaritans to the nearest RTO. They were not aware of it.
100% Hospital or Medicals have no Charter fixed regarding the Good Samaritan Policy.
95% Doctors & Paramedics are not aware about any award scheme of State Govt. for the encouragement of Good Samaritans who bring road accident victims to hospital.
100% Doctors & Paramedics said that they required Capacity Building programme on Good Samaritan Law & SOP.
Cuttack, where the oldest and biggest medical college of the State is situated, is the hub of Doctors. The above findings about the awareness and implementation of the Good Samaritan Law in the State are restricted to Cuttack District. Training on Good Samaritan Law for Doctors & Paramedics and Police in all the districts is highly necessary. As per our experience & interaction held with doctors and paramedics during the training, the awareness status of the law in police department is also very poor. If any law is not in implemented, it is of no use. It is high time the protection of Good Samaritans or bystanders was done to save more lives in road accidents.
Secondly, as per the guidelines of Hon’ble Supreme Court and Govt. of Odisha, large scale advertisement should be done by concerned authorities in leading newspapers, electronic media, social media, etc on Good Samaritans Law to encourage people to come out to help accident victims.
Please click on above for complete report of the programme.