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Helping Someone in Distress under California’s “Good Samaritan Law”

By Ross Jurewitz on March 11, 2013

Many throughout the nation have already heard the shocking story:

A nurse refused to perform CPR on 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless that collapsed on the dining room floor of Glenwood Gardens, an independent senior living facility in California. The nurse stated that it was against company policy for any staff member to perform CPR. By the time paramedics arrived, Bayless had no pulse and reportedly died of a massive stroke.

As the story spread like wildfire, many similar concerns and questions arose from the incident:

Can this facility legally have a policy that prohibits staff members from performing CPR to its residents? If the nurse broke the company policy and attempted to save Bayless, would the nurse or company be liable for Bayless?

To help shed some light on the legality and liability issues surrounding this event, FOX 5 San Diego News invited founder of Jurewitz Law Group and personal injury attorney, Ross Jurewitz, to offer his insight on March 3, 2013.

During his FOX 5 News appearance, Ross Jurewitz explained to viewers that there is no duty under California law that forces a person to help another person that is in an emergency situation. However, California law encourages people to help others in distress by protecting them through the Good Samaritan law. Under this law, a person will not be held civilly liable for the outcome of attempting to help a person under distress as long as the conduct is done in good faith (honesty) and is not grossly negligent (extreme carelessness).

Also, since the state of California does not require independent facility staff members to perform CPR, the facility is allowed to have a “No CPR” policy.

In a nutshell, the nurse did not legally have to save Bayless. However, she would have been protected from California’s Good Samaritan law had she stepped in to help even though there was a rule against CPR in her workplace.

Those considering an elderly living facility for their loved one, make sure the facility you choose offers the right amount of care for your wants and needs.

As a highly experienced personal injury attorney, Ross Jurewitz focuses on cases such as auto accidents, wrongful death, elder abuse, and more. He has been featured on several local San Diego news stations for his trusted legal opinions. To ask Ross your legal questions contact us on our website or at (888) 233-5020.

Ross Jurewitz

Ross Jurewitz is the founder and managing lawyer of the Jurewitz Law Group, a San Diego personal injury attorney law firm. These San Diego injury accident lawyers specialize in helping people seriously injured in a variety of accidents throughout San Diego County and California.

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