Recently, a scenario that one never hopes to see happened: two good samaritans were killed while trying to help other people injured in a car accident.
The accident took place in the morning on Interstate 64 Westbound near Shelbyville. Two semi-trucks got into an accident with multiple passenger cars, though none suffered injuries. After they pulled over to the side, two drivers who witnessed the accident came by and offered to help. They pulled their cars over to the shoulder to the left of the fast lane, and within moments of getting out, were struck by an approaching semi-truck. The semi-truck was allegedly trying to avoid the accident when it veered to the left, struck the guard rail, and ran along the shoulder.
In a situation like this, it is difficult to sort out who is the most at fault. Kentucky has a law known as the "Good Samaritan Law" (KRS 411.148) that offers protection to those who attempt to administer aid to someone in distress. However, it only extends to those who are already licensed to deal with emergency situations (such as nurses), and who administer the treatment without expecting compensation. Furthermore, the Good Samaritan Law protects the good samaritan from liability only, should the treatment go wrong. It does not give the good samaritan the right to make a claim if he or she gets injured while offering emergency aid. In general, an individual has no duty to rescue other individuals in distress unless that person is an emergency worker or a common carrier with a duty to rescue its patrons.
A good samaritan who gets injured while attempting to help those in distress has the same claim as anyone who gets injured or killed in an accident — and the injuring party has the same defenses. The good samaritan, or his or her estate, could argue that because of the injuring party's lack of reasonable care, the good samaritan was injured; had the injuring party acted reasonably, the good samaritan would not have been injured/would still be alive. However, the injuring party might argue in defense that if not for the good samaritan's "reckless" behavior, the injuring party would never have hurt the good samaritan in the first place. Kentucky has what is called a "pure" comparative negligence system, which means that the amount an injured party can collect is reduced based on the percentage that the injured party was at fault. However, unlike modified comparative negligence states — where an injured party could be barred from collecting if his or her fault is 50% or greater — in Kentucky, an injured party can collect 1% of a damages award even if he or she is 99% at fault. If you are ever injured in an accident and need to know more about your rights, contact an experienced Kentucky car accident attorney.
Miller & Falkner is a plaintiffs law firm serving residents of Kentucky and Indiana. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Contact us today for a free consultation.