The Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Review of Case Interpreting Ohio's "Good Samaritan" Law
On July 8, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted the case of Carter v. Reese, 2014-Ohio-5395 for review, which means that the Ohio Supreme Court will decide this appeal from the decision of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals.
Facts of the Case
It is a case involving a man who lost his leg when he was pinned against a loading dock. The man was stuck between the truck and the loading dock, but was uninjured. He was trying to get unstuck when he heard someone nearby. He called out to the man and the man asked what he could do to help him. The pinned man asked him to move the truck forward about a foot, but to make sure that he did not reverse the truck. The man who was attempting to render assistance did not know how to drive the type of truck that the man was pinned behind, but he decided to render assistance anyway and let the truck roll backwards onto the pinned man breaking his leg in three separate places. By the time someone came to render assistance who knew how to drive the truck, the injured man had lost so much blood that he had to be airlifted to the hospital and ended up having to have his leg amputated.
Decisions of the Lower Courts
The Trial Court and the Court of Appeals both affirmed Motions for Summary Judgment based on the "Good Samaritan" law in regard to rendering emergency care, holding that the Good Samaritan law in Ohio protects anyone who renders emergency care from liability for their conduct unless their conduct is willful and wanton. The issue that the Ohio Supreme Court will decide is whether Ohio’s Good Samaritan civil immunity statute only applies when emergency medical care is rendered or when anyone attempts to render emergency care.
What the Good Samaritan Statute Says
The Good Samaritan statute in R.C. 23025.23 states “(no) person shall be liable in civil damages for administering emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment, for acts performed at the scene of such emergency, unless such acts constitute willful and wanton misconduct.”
What is the Equitable Result
What do you think? Should the Ohio Good Samaritan law protect non-medically trained individuals from liability? Even if the Ohio Supreme Court determines that the law as written applies to any person, health care professional or otherwise, who administers ‘emergency care,’ medical or otherwise, at the scene of an emergency and who meets the remaining requirements of the statute, e.g. their acts do constitute willful or wanton conduct, this is an inequitable result for this injured trucker and the State of Ohio’s legislature should change the law to reflect this inequitable result. It was clearly negligent for the individual attempting to render assistance to try to drive the truck when he did not know how to operate it and he should be held accountable for his negligence.