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072 171 1979

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Will insurance cover first aid accidents?

Can good Samaritans get sued?

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

Will insurance cover first aid accidents?

Can good Samaritans get sued?

By Angelique Ruzicka

, |

3 min read

When it comes to assisting in an emergency professional and qualified staff don’t tend to hesitate. They also tend not to give the potential for being sued, should anything go wrong, a second thought.

But the reality is that, depending on where you live, the potential for getting sued after offering vital assistance such as first aid is still threat and even a possibility.

During training, it’s vital to inform staff how they are covered should anything go wrong if they do help someone in distress on the estate.

Here’s how the law and insurance works in South Africa.

Good Samaritan law

A Good Samaritan law offers legal protection to those people that step in and give reasonable assistance to people who are believed to be in distress, ill, in peril or incapacitated.

It helps to motivate first aid responders or members of the public to get involved at the scene of an accident without having to worry about being sued or prosecuted for any unintentional injury or wrongful death as a result of any treatment or advice offered.

Does South Africa have a Good Samaritan Law?

In South Africa there is no Good Samaritan law on the statute books, so people are not obligated to stop and assist at the scene of an accident. If you do assist, you are not protected by the law if something goes wrong.

However, doctors are obliged to help as the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has imposed a duty of care on a doctor at the scene of an emergency to stop and assist, according to medicalbrief.co.za.

Will insurance cover me?

The law may not offer you protection if you’re not a practicing doctor. However, your insurance might. This, of course, depends on the type of insurance you have.

According to OUTsurance insurance cover like Building Combined or Body Corporate will usually offer some form of liability cover as an optional cover. A spokesperson for OUTsurance, however, adds: ‘the liability cover is usually limited to liability arising from the ownership of the property. For example, a loose tile falling and injuring a third party or a gate closing on a third party’s vehicle.’

Public liability cover could cover a business against legal liability arising from the actions of employees. A spokesperson for OUTsurance explains: ‘“Professional advice or treatment” is usually excluded from this product, since a Professional Indemnity product (specialist cover) will provide cover against such events.

‘However, we understand that first aid treatment is sometimes urgent, and the employee (HOA management team) might have to do everything in their power to try and assist.

For this reason, we do cover liability arising from first aid treatment under our “Public Liability” product.’

Read the fine print

As there’s no protection for staff of an HOA under a Good Samaritan law, it means that insurance may have to be relied upon. However, as demonstrated above, not all insurance will protect a first responder if he or she offers treatment that further injures someone in distress or whose treatment or advice goes on to result in someone’s wrongful death.

Read the fine print of any insurances you have. If in doubt, speak to your insurance provider or broker to find out in what instances you are covered. It’s always better to be informed so that you can act in a moment without hesitation or concern that there may be legal repercussions.

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