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Understanding Chicago Good Samaritan Laws: A Guide

Chicago is a busy, highly populated city. Due to this, accidents happen there more often. Those who insert themselves into a caregiving role during an emergency are often heroes, but their actions can also put them in legal jeopardy. To help protect yourself in these strange scenarios, you must understand the good samaritan laws that are on the books in Chicago (and Illinois as a whole): 

Defining Good Samaritan Laws in Illinois

To protect yourself, you first need to have a solid understanding of what good samaritan laws in Illinois actually are. Good samaritan laws, simply put, refer to laws that affect those who insert themselves into a potentially dangerous situation, or when in which they intend to help someone while putting themselves in potential legal jeopardy by doing so. 

These laws typically protect those who are acting on helpful or life-saving impulses unless they are doing so in a negligent manner, or in a way that’s definable as wanton misconduct. In Illinois, you are considered to have no inherent “duty” to rescue or protect someone else, so you cannot be held liable if you fail to act to protect someone’s health or life. That being said, when you do insert yourself into a situation and it goes south, you could become a target of potential criminal charges in some cases. 

When people use CPR on a stranger, for example, and cause an injury to that person by doing so, they may or may not be protected under Illinois’ good samaritan laws. There are a lot of ins and outs to these laws that make them complex to try and understand. Understanding good samaritan laws in Chicago can become even more trying, so having a lawyer who can help you through any situation where you’re being put into legal jeopardy simply for trying to help your fellow man is completely necessary. The more you protect yourself ahead of a trial or potential charge, the easier it will be for your good samaritan lawyer to help you through the potential legal troubles ahead of you, after all. 

Can Good Samaritan Laws Protect Someone from Negligence Accusations?

Many people who are being accused of criminal negligence, especially those in the medical field or those that are performing CPR on someone in a public space, use good samaritan laws as a defense. To do so successfully, there are four qualities you must prove surrounding your actions:

  1. You assisted as a result of a serious, immediate emergency.
  2. You were not involved in causing the emergency situation. 
  3. You did not commit gross negligence when providing emergency care.
  4. You gained permission before administering care (if the person was conscious and/or coherent. 

While these four qualities help to make the situation more cut and dry, actually arguing these points in court is a much more complex act. For this reason, a quality defense team is needed to prevent the person being charged from having criminal negligence characters successfully thrust against them. If at any time during your attempt to give life-saving care, you acted in a way that could be constituted as willful and wanton misconduct, you could find yourself in a tough spot when it comes to avoiding negligence accusations, however. 

Personal Injury Victims and the Impact of Good Samaritan Laws

Good Samaritan laws are meant to protect people who genuinely care about their fellow man, and who cannot simply watch someone suffer during an emergency. Despite this, you could be criminally charged in these situations, no matter how well-intentioned you were when responding to the emergency at hand. When a person is injured due to your actions during this tense period, for example, they could file a personal injury lawsuit against you. If they can prove that your intervention was what caused that injury, that is. Once again, the complexities (both on a legal and emotional level) make the nature of good samaritan laws legally gray territory in most cases. 

Good Samaritan Laws and Vehicle Accidents

Those who help out motorcycle or car accident victims at the scene of a crash are another category of people who could find themselves hit with a personal injury lawsuit if their treatment goes awry. If possible, you should always wait for professional medical assistance in these situations, especially if you’re nearby a busy highway where inserting yourself could put either you or others in danger. The more careful and caring you are, the more likely you are to avoid a legally dubious situation.