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Good Samaritans: Introduction

Reviewed 1/18/2019

Introduction

New Hampshire's general Good Samaritan law is RSA 508:12, I, Aid at Scene of Emergency or to Victim of Crime.  Good Samaritan laws exist in most states and are meant to encourage people who witness emergency situations or crimes to help injured parties or victims.  The laws do this by giving immunity from suit for liability that might otherwise be imposed on those bystanders who voluntarily provide help. Good Samaritan laws are part of what the law calls “negligence,” a very large area of the civil law of torts having to do with who has a duty, who may be liable, and who is immune from liability when there is a personal injury or some other civil wrong. There are several other statutes in New Hampshire that provide similar limited immunity from liability specifically for physicians, medical practitioners, emergency personnel, volunteers and others who, in good faith and without charge, provide emergency services. 

RSA 508:12 was easy to find because there's an entry for Good Samaritan in the print index to the statutes. But those other, related statutes that we mentioned above? Not so much. Some are in the index, but we found at least four other statutes that offer limited immunity from liability when providing emergency aid that aren't under "Good Samaritan" - and there are probably more.  You'll have to be creative and persistent in your search. Check under Negligence, Emergencies, Emergency Medical Services, and the specific profession or situation you're interested in. Keywords to look for are: "liability," "immunity," "limitation," "negligence,"  "misconduct,"  "emergency," and "disaster."

It would be much tougher to find RSA 508:12 if you were keyword searching the Revised Statutes Online. That's because "Good Samaritan" is what's called a "popular name" and the phrase itself isn't used in RSA 508:12. Use the keywords that we pointed out above to find what you're looking for.  In these kinds of situations, a quick search on Wikipedia or some other similar site can help explain this concept and provide research terms that are more useful than the popular name of a statute.

 

Disclaimer

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ...  is not a substitute for the services of an attorney.