Marathon Explosion: Good Samaritan Laws

By Brett Snider, Esq. on April 16, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In the wake of the events of Newtown, Aurora, and 9/11, it is all too clear how tragedy has the capacity to bring us to our knees. Yet, it is often in these bleak lit moments that our finest and most noble virtues shine through. This was clear in Boston on Monday, where despite a hellstorm of confusion and injuries, many Bostonians were running to the rescue and into the melee.

Good Samaritan laws act as a legal shield for those individuals who risk the fray to save lives. Those rushing to help after the Boston Marathon explosion may soon discover how effective that shield is.

Just seconds after the two explosions which rocked Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, medical personnel as well as marathon participants sprinted to help the injured, Huffington Post reports. One particular Good Samaritan, Carlos Arredondo, was reported as using his own clothing to staunch bleeding wounds just minutes after he ran to help victims of the devastation, The Guardian UK reports.

For concerned altruists like Mr. Arredondo, the issue may not be how to wipe the memories of the day's events from his blood-stained clothes, but how to defend himself from civil suits by the victims. Rescuees suffering from cracked ribs due to CPR or medical complications from improper medical care by first responders occasionally seek to sue their well-meaning rescuers for negligence to cover their future medical expenses.

Luckily for those individuals who rendered aid to the dying or injured in wake of the Boston Marathon Explosion, or during any other emergency, Good Samaritan laws do not allow suits for negligence when the rescuer is seeking to provide aid to an injured party. Specifically, Massachusetts' Good Samaritan statute provides that any person providing aid in good faith cannot be held liable in a civil suit.

There is a limit to this protection, however, as even a good faith effort to rescue a injured victim can land a rescuer in court if the acts she took to deliver aid are considered reckless.

In a time when our society is constantly criticized for being unsympathetic and overly litigious, it is not only refreshing but necessary that we provide legal shelter those of us who still exemplify selflessness and courage in the face of adversity. For the heroes of the Boston Marathon explosion, the medical professionals and other Bostonians who took their own lives at risk to provide much needed aid, Massachussetts' Good Samaritan laws will continue to provide that safe haven.

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