Sometimes this means that we can be the first ones to respond to traffic accidents.
This happened to a group I was with as we were coming down Highway 1 from Mill Valley to Muir Beach. We were the first to come upon a gentleman who had driven off the inside of the road as he headed towards Mill Valley from Muir Beach.
We stopped and helped the driver while waiting for Fire and Paramedics to arrive.
Since I am an attorney, this situation got me thinking about what kind of liability cyclists could incur by acting as good samaritans.
It turns out that prior to 2009, cyclists rendering aid could be liable for any injuries they caused. In the case of Van Horn v. Watson, the California Supreme Court ruled that state law protected only those rendering emergency medical care at the scene of an accident and did not protect those rendering non-medical care. In Van Horn, one woman pulled another out of crashed car and in doing so caused the injured woman to become paralyzed. The Court, in a narrow ruling, found that the good samaritan was not immune from liability because she did not render medical care.
Following that ruling, the California Legislature acted quickly to amend State law in order to protect good samaritans who render medical or non-medical aid to accident victims. So now, cyclists who render aid are protected from liability for any injuries they cause as long as their actions do not constitute gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. In other words, as long as you act as the average reasonable person would, you cannot be sued for any injuries you cause rendering aid to an injured party you encounter.
Fortunately, it’s not always the cyclist that is the good guy. Here’s a story of a cyclist saved from cardiac arrest by his friends and a good samaritan passing by.