How Supreme Court Guidelines Protect Good Samaritans Who Help Road Accident Victims
- SC approved the guidelines for protection of Good Samaritans in March 2016
- The guidelines now protect Good Samaritans who help road accident victims
- As per law, a good samaritan shall not be liable for any criminal liability
New Delhi: In 2004, Rajeev Narayan was stepping out of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus for dinner when he saw a cyclist fall off his bike in the middle of a busy road. Without thinking twice, Rajeev rushed to help the cyclist. “I went to help the victim but the crowd gathered there and started saying maaro, maaro and demanding money from me, as if I have hit the cyclist. I was scared but that incident is what motivated me to realise that something needs to be done to ensure people come forward to help the accident victims.” In the last 14 years, Rajeev, who works with a globally recognised NGO has saved about 35 lives. It is now almost second nature to him. We met Dinesh Tiwari who was one of the people he saved. While speaking to NDTV, Mr Tiwari stated that he met with an accident in 2014 and Rajeev Ji saved his life by taking him to Rockland hospital on time. “I promised him that I too will help an accident victim, which I did last year and requested more people to step forward and help road accident victims,” urged Mr Tiwari.
According to the government data, about 423 people lose their lives every single day in road accidents in India. These are astounding numbers and reflect a crisis, staring us in the face – we have the world’s most unsafe roads and the situation seems to be getting worse by the year.
Good Samaritan laws offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are, or who they believe to be, injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated.
Now, people like Rajeev Narayan and Dinesh Tiwari will no longer have to worry about harassment at hospitals, police stations and courts after they help a road accident victim. In March 2016, the Supreme Court approved the guidelines issued by the Centre for the protection of Good Samaritans or first responders at the hands of the police or any other authority.
Also Read: Why India Needs The Good Samaritan Law
How is the first responder protected by law:
- A good Samaritan making a phone call to inform the police about an accidental injury or death does not need to reveal his/her personal details
- The option of becoming a witness in the matter shall solely rest with the Good Samaritan
- If a Good Samaritan chooses to be a witness, they will be questioned at a time and place of their convenience
- Lack of response by a doctor in an emergency situation pertaining to road accidents shall constitute ‘professional misconduct’
- The good samaritan shall not be liable for any civil or criminal liability
While speaking to NDTV, Saji Cherian, Director, Operation, Save Life Foundation said, “Since a lot of things are entrenched in people’s mind, it is important for them to understand that now there is a system that they will not be harassed if they help a road crash victim.”
In spite of this law being quite comprehensive, not many are aware about their rights and hesitate to be the Good Samaritan. Raising awareness about this is key to reducing road fatalities. A road accident can happen with anyone and everyone should be sensitised to help out, especially now that the biggest fear is taken care of. Remember stepping forward to call the police or medical services will not entangle them in any procedural hassles. The law is on the side of the Good Samaritan.