Mark Beluscak, Lead Instructor, Accident Scene Management
As our riding season picks up, I see more and more notices of motorcycle accidents. As an instructor for Accident Scene Management, I am on a mission to present training for everyone on what to do at the scene of a motorcycle accident before EMS arrives. (Accident Scene Management 100). If more riders were trained in the basic trauma skills, we would all be doing something to prevent or minimize injuries or perhaps even deaths at these tragic scenes. Of course, some survival factors have to do with how the accident happens and the forces involved, but as I like to say, “Fortune favors the prepared,” and I want to do everything I can if possible.
This month I would like to mention legal concerns some people have if they help out at the scene of an accident. Questions on legal issues come up in our basic and advanced classes, and there is a part of our instruction that deals with this. Many students ask me, “If I help someone at the scene of an accident, will I get sued successfully?” Fortunately, in Colorado, we have Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-108. This is the Colorado Good Samaritan Law. In Nevada, there is NRS 41.500. The statutes in both states say that you are shielded from legal liability when rendering aid at the scene of an emergency or accident. There are some things you have to remember for this to apply. First, the person you are helping is not a person you are required to treat, and you are not there being compensated as part of your job. For example, Paramedics responding to the scene are not covered as it is their duty to respond and treat them. Volunteers on a rescue squad are protected from liability even though they have to react as they volunteer.
Second, if you act in good faith and do not do something completely negligent, you are protected under the Good Samaritan Law. There is a scene in a funny movie where a woman performs a minor surgical procedure on someone she believes is choking. She has never been trained to do this and only saw the procedure performed on a television show. This woman would not be shielded from liability. For the record, we do not teach minor surgical procedures in Accident Scene Management, not even the advanced class.
The Good Samaritan Law was written to encourage bystanders to help out at the scene of an emergency. So if you are a volunteer or happen to be present when an accident happens, you can help out without fear of placing yourself in legal jeopardy.
Mark Beluscak offers accident Scene Management 100, CPR, and First Aid through the Rocky Mountain Public Safety Training Group (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are interested in taking the Basic class in Denver or surrounding cities, please contact us so we can get one scheduled in your area.