Good samaritan law update nears Mass. governor’s desk

A good samaritan law is headed to Governor Deval Patrick's desk. Photo: recoveryconnection.org
A good samaritan law is headed to Governor Deval Patrick’s desk. Photo: recoveryconnection.org

A good samaritan law that would extend liability protection to off-duty emergency personnel appears on its way to becoming law, with the House on Tuesday giving its final approval to the legislation.

Currently, people who are not first responders and who make a good faith effort to help a person have some liability protection for the results of their help.

The bill (S 1993) extends that liability protection to off-duty firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and others whose regular duties involve the provision of emergency medical care. The bill was filed by former Rep. Kathi Anne Reinstein, whose husband is a captain in the Chelsea Fire Department.

The legislation, which still requires enactment in the Senate and the signature of the governor to become law, would provide legal protections for off-duty emergency personnel who try to help people and are otherwise open to lawsuits.

“There were some incidents where people were off-duty, rendered aid, and they ended up being sued for the aid they gave in good faith,” said Revere Fire Chief Gene Doherty.

Doherty said he was unaware why emergency medical professionals were excluded from the samaritan law and said off-duty firefighters help people in emergencies even without the legal protections. “We’ve had people on plenty of occasions, off-duty, render aid,” Doherty told the News Service. He said, “I think the vast majority of firefighters wouldn’t hesitate to do that.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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