The Good Samaritan Law ensures that anyone assisting an injured person, and is therefore acting in a morally responsible manner, is not legally liable for any harm or death that befalls that person. In France and the Canadian province of Quebec, for instance, it is a legal requirement for people to help someone they know is injured. Similarly, in Germany, a person should provide help if it is required, and he or she is immune from prosecution if the assistance turns out to be harmful.
The consensus throughout the world is that it is always best to help someone who is injured. Having said that, in the litigious society we live in, a lot of people are scared to help for fear of prosecution. This situation is slowly evolving though, driven by considerable evidence in the scientific literature that states that early passer-by intervention significantly improves survival rates in many emergencies, including cardiac arrest and road traffic accidents.
A form of the Good Samaritan Law – The Rescuer Protection Law – is currently being finalised in the UAE, and will be the first of its kind in the GCC. It will provide legal immunity for those individuals that administer first aid in a rescue situation when they acted in good faith and without remuneration.
At present, countless people throughout the country prefer not to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) because they worry they could be held responsible if those they help die.
There are even stories about people choosing not to help someone who is choking as they do not want to face the possibility of legal action.
Hopefully, this way of thinking will change with The Rescuer Protection Law, with the draft stating that a passer-by will be protected if they assist someone who is in danger until emergency medical services arrive.
Nevertheless, providing assistance remains optional, and it will not be a punishable offence not to step in.
Cardiac arrest survival rates in the UAE are relatively low, ranging between 4-13% outside of a hospital, meaning that only around one in 10 people survive. With the introduction of the new law, though, is anticipated that six people out of 10 will survive if CPR is started immediately. This simple change, in tandem with more people learning first aid, will improve survival rates throughout the UAE.