Should New Jersey's Good Samaritan Act Be Stricter?

Two cases on opposite ends of law's spectrum made headlines recently.

Many Americans didn’t even know what a Good Samaritan Law was until the “Seinfeld” series finale in the late 1990s, when the cast stood idly by and watched a man be robbed on the street, doing nothing and even laughing.

Now, just as in the sitcom, the Good Samaritan Law – especially here in New Jersey – is enforceable.

But should it be stricter?

Two glaring cases on opposite ends of the spectrum occurred recently, both making headlines in their respective regions. In northwestern New Jersey, a mail carrier in Long Valley was honored by the United States Postal Service for helping move an elderly, incapacitated man from the roadway who fell of his motorized scooter. The mail carrier called police and waited with the bloodied man until help arrived – all during the course of his normal work schedule.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, and more prominently, a group of onlookers not only stood and watched a mother be brutally assaulted in a Salem County park in front of her child, but took photos and videos of the crime without stepping in to stop the beating.

New Jersey’s Good Samaritan Act reads:

Any Good Samaritan rendering care (in good faith and without thought of consideration) at the scene of an accident or emergency or while transporting the victim for further treatment; in a health care facility if your actual duty, including on call duty, doesn’t require a response to a patient emergency situation. Immunity is granted from liability for failure to inform when emergent situation necessitates action in absence of the ability to properly inform the patient or an authorized representative.  Not immune from liability are acts or omissions by you in such situations which are determined to involve gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct.

But is it enough? Should the law be stricter and more heavily enforced? Or does the law put too much responsibility on fellow citizens to step in the way of a perceived or alleged crime?

Tell us in the comments section. 

Dame Bridgid June 30, 2014 at 06:20 PM
The Good Samaritan Act was not really applicable in the case of that Salem county woman being beaten. Had someone acted, it would have protected the rescuer for the use of reasonable force against the attacker in defense of the victim. However; while it was morally reprehensible to do nothing, The Good Samaritan Act does not require anyone to risk their own physical safety by intervening in violent confrontations. In that type of situation, it is extremely likely the attacker(s) will attempt to harm the would be hero/heroine. For example; one of my kids intervened in an attack where the assailant wore steel toed boots. The Good Samaritan Act did protect my child from prosecution for finally knocking the breath out of the attacker with a blow to the diaphragm. However; our rescuer needed x-rays to check for possible fractures. Injuries that were inflicted by the creep who was trying to kick the victim to death... This is the reason why a law compelling ordinary citizens to intervene would be ludicrous.
Lynn Greene June 30, 2014 at 06:54 PM
Give medals to those who are Good Samaritans, but those who have fun watching something bad happening should be arrested and need to pay bail.
Common Cents June 30, 2014 at 08:54 PM
The real main intention of this law was to protect somebody who is rendering assistance, regardless. If you were to come to an accident and you moved the person out of the car because it was going to burn, but in the intention you caused paralysis due to an injury your had no idea about, you would be granted immunity. You were acting in the best interest of the victim, trying to save their life. If this act was not in effect, nobody would render assistance if they thought about the consequences. Good people with basic human nature would still help. It takes the ambulance chasers to ruin something else like this.
ThudNJ June 30, 2014 at 09:11 PM
Lawyers are nit pickers who strive to find loopholes in everything. Shakespeare was right when he said " First we kill the lawyers"
Andrea July 01, 2014 at 12:22 AM
My friend, got her CELLPHONE stolen right out of her hand on the 92 bus and everyone else just sat there, she said that someone had lent her their phone, so she could call her mom. She also stated that the cops wouldn't come out just for a stolen cellphone, how do those people know? As for the mom who got a beat down in front of her child, and I was there, I would have been the first to call 911. True story, I went to University Plaza in Newark to pay my cable bill at the Optimum Payment Center, and I grabbed something to eat, anyway, as I was eating in my car, I saw a store owner get hit by some guy, and I put down my food, and picked up my cellphone as I was about to dial 911, I heard the owner say not to, but I had to, even though he was a complete stranger to me, I knew enough to know that if I did nothing, it would've be just as bad as the criminal doing the hitting. I am the type of person who will stand up for anyone if I see what's going on.


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