Timely help given to a road accident victim can mean the difference between life and death for them. People should be encouraged to be good samaritans, who in good faith and without expectation of reward or duty of care, provide assistance to a victim of a road accident. However, witnesses or bystanders often hesitate to help due to the fear of:
- Legal hassles
- Being asked to repeatedly appear as a witness in court
- Repeated questioning or harassment by the police
- Payment of charges or fees at hospitals
To address this issue, the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways gave effect to the Good Samaritan Law. It prohibits harassment of good samaritans by police or the hospitals when they bring in or report about an accident victim. The salient features of the Law are:
- A bystander or good samaritan who takes an accident victim to a hospital should be allowed to leave immediately after, no questions asked.
- They shall be rewarded/compensated in a manner specified by the State governments, to encourage others to follow suit.
- They shall not be liable for any civil or criminal liability arising out of the accident
- They can maintain their anonymity when reporting the accident to the police on phone. They cannot be compelled to reveal their identification details.
- The same provision of anonymity shall apply to the Medico-legal Form in hospitals. In both places, the good samaritan can voluntarily provide their details.
- In case the good samaritan agrees to be a witness in the case, and is required for investigation by police, they may be examined once. Thereafter they should not be harassed or intimidated by the police and the same should be ensured by the State government through appropriate methods.
- Hospitals are not to detain good samaritans or demand treatment costs from them.
- Chapter 7, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002 Chapter 7, Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation, 2002