Can I be Sued for Choosing to Help? Colorado

The following is a video transcript.

Doug Richards here for U.S. LawShield of Colorado. I want to talk to you today about a situation that probably doesn’t come around very often, but you should know what to do if it does. That is, what happens if you walk up on somebody else being assaulted and what happens if you walk up on somebody who is hurt?

Let’s talk about the first situation. So, if you walk up on somebody who is actively being assaulted, you may use self-defense, and in fact, deadly force to defend that person if they could use self-defense and deadly force to defend themselves. You would essentially be put in their shoes. You need to make sure you’re right because your actions will be judged based upon whether or not it would have been reasonable under the circumstances for them to use self-defense or deadly force in self-defense in that situation.

Let me give you an example of where you might be wrong. If you walk up on a situation and there is a plain-clothed police officer making an arrest of a suspect, and you run up and get involved by apprehending or restraining the police officer, you’re going to go to jail. If you do use self-defense to defend a third party, you need to make sure you are 100% right on the law and the facts when you walk into that situation.

Let’s fast forward a little bit. The event is over, and maybe somebody is hurt. This would apply, not just to an assault, but also to any kind of situation. If you walked up on a car accident, for example, or somebody was just hurt at a park and you’re not sure what happened, Colorado has a Good Samaritan Statute that provides civil protections for you as a way of encouraging you to get involved. You can read more about that at Colorado Revised Statutes 13-21-108.

What that statute says is that you shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions made in good faith as a result of the rendering of such emergency care or emergency assistance during the emergency, unless the acts or omissions were grossly negligent, or willful and wanton. Now, this applies to doctors, this applies to nurses, EMTs, and just regular old people like you and me that don’t have any medical background at all. The real caveat here is that it cannot be somebody who is your patient already, and it cannot be someone from whom you are receiving compensation.

Now, if you are being reimbursed for costs, for example, if you’re a volunteer at an event, and you get reimbursed for the cost of providing that care, you’re still protected under this statute. For all of you ski patrollers out there that volunteer their time in exchange for a ski pass, you are protected as well. It’s actually specifically described in this statute that you can receive a ski pass in exchange for your volunteering, and that does not cancel out your ability to use this statute in the future.

If you’ve got any questions about this or anything else, feel free to call me. I’m always happy to talk to U.S. LawShield members.

So get certified with our online First Aid Course for Gunshot Wounds through U.S. LawShield 2A Institute, and we will teach you the specifics on application of a tourniquet and other critical life-saving techniques. It’s up to you.

So take the initiative, pursue the knowledge, and learn those critical skills that are necessary to keep yourself and those around you alive until help arrives.

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