SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed two new laws that will protect people trained in first aid or medical response from being sued for trying to help injured people. The new laws aim to alleviate worries by “Good Samaritans” that they could be sued for helping someone who is seriously injured.
“Good Samaritans should be thanked for helping people who are hurt – not worried about getting sued. Their quick thinking can help prevent an injury from becoming more serious and even save a life,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Senate Bill 2303, sponsored by Sen. J. Bradley Burzynski (R-Sycamore) and Rep. Richard Myers (R-Macomb), protects any person who is currently certified in first aid by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association and acts in good faith to administer free first aid from being sued by the people they are trying to help. The provisions are effective July 1, 2006.
“Previously, someone may have taken a certified course in first aid, but they were not protected under the parameters of the Good Samaritan Act,” explained Burzynski. “While I don’t know of a specific situation where a lawsuit has been filed against a first-aid-certified Good Samaritan, unfortunately, in this day and age it is certainly possible that someone could attempt to help another person and unintentionally place themselves in the position of being susceptible to legal action. This new law will protect people in those circumstances.”
Senate Bill 2968, sponsored by Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Lombard) and Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn)
, provides protection from civil lawsuits for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and first responders who act in good faith to provide emergency care to injured people. First responders are medically-trained volunteers who respond to the scene of an emergency and are able to offer emergency care before an ambulance arrives. EMTs must complete a course of instruction in life support care and are licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Provisions of the act go into effect January 1, 2007.
“This bill has been drafted very narrowly, has bipartisan support in the legislature, and includes the fruits of talks with numerous groups and associations," Cronin said. “It is my hope that it will protect professionals with proper training from lawsuits that have no merit.”
“There’s no question the new law was needed,” Pihos said. “It’s already difficult to find people willing to serve as Emergency Medical Technicians or First Responders. The new law gives them needed immunity from being sued for trying to help.”
Both new laws include an exception for willful and wanton misconduct on the part of the “Good Samaritan” in providing the emergency care. Firefighters and law enforcement officials already have similar protection from civil liability.