Forum: Key considerations in good Samaritan doctrine

It is gratifying to note that Mr Amos Wu Pom Hin has argued for a good Samaritan law (Need for comprehensive law to protect good Samaritans, Oct 6). Generally speaking, there is legally no duty to rescue another person who is placed in a dangerous situation.

The three key elements that support a successful invocation of the good Samaritan doctrine are: a) the care rendered was performed as a result of the emergency, b) the initial emergency or injury was not caused by the person invoking the defence and c) the emergency care was not given in a grossly negligent or reckless manner.

A good Samaritan is a person who voluntarily renders aid in an emergency to an injured person and owes the stranger a duty of being reasonably careful.

Negligence would exist where it could be shown that the good Samaritan knew or should have known that his intervention would injure the person he was trying to help.

The idea of a good Samaritan law is that in some cases, people may think twice about assisting others if faced with the potential threat of a lawsuit.

Some countries have good Samaritan laws while others have a "duty to rescue" requirement, which requires a person near a harmful situation to step in and help or call the proper authorities.

Duty to rescue laws can be found in Germany, Israel and in some states of the United States.

In this case, a rescuer is favoured in the eyes of the law. Judges will make every effort to protect him so long as he is not grossly negligent.

Heng Cho Choon

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.