India’s first bill to give legal protection to good samaritans in Karnataka who help accident victims, has been given assent by President Ram Nath Kovind.
With the Good Samaritan and Medical Professional (Protection and Regulations during Emergency Situations) Bill, 2016, Karnataka becomes the first state in India to implement such a law.
The legislation aims to provide legal protection to ordinary citizens so that they step forward without hesitation and help accident victims get to the nearest medical facility within the ‘golden hour.’ The golden hour, in medical terms, is the first hour following a traumatic injury during which medical attention is very crucial.
When it comes to serious road accidents, many victims suffer and even die because most people stand around, watching and taking pictures instead of rushing victims to the nearest hospital.
While this could be a result of the bystander effect; it could also arise from the fear of being questioned by hospital authorities and facing police harassment that inevitably occurs when a stranger helps an accident victim.
But no more. With Karnataka implementing the good Samaritans Bill, at least there will be no fear of the law for such people.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Piyush Tewari, the founder and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation, said, “However, the challenge is to communicate to people that they have a new right and they should feel the confidence to exercise it. In this, all stakeholders including various state governments should ensure that they raise awareness about this issue.”
Additionally, good samaritans will not just have legal backing, but will also receive financial incentives for extending help to strangers.
“So many Samaritans have shifted accident victims in their own vehicles even if the victim is bleeding. The department has [therefore] announced incentives for people who help victims,” said Dr Srinivasa Gowda, the director of Department of Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka.
A ‘Good Samaritan Fund’ will be created in the state to help such people when they bring accident victims to a hospital. Both private and government hospitals are responsible for providing first aid to the victim while the person who brought them there can leave immediately.
Good samaritans won’t be liable to repeatedly visit police stations and courts either. In cases where court attendance is necessary, the travel expenses (to courts and police stations) will be reimbursed from the collected fund.
Karnataka is one of the top five states in the country when it comes to road accident deaths. This timely bill will indeed prove to be a boon for kind-hearted people who wish to help accident victims.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)