Monday, June 9, 2008

US Laws

This week's news: a 78-year old man got hit by a car in Connecticut by a drunk driver, who drove on the wrong side of the road. Unfortunately this happens very often in the US (drunk people driving their car). What happened after this accident was strange however, because no one stopped to help the injured man.

This surprised me too. Usually, people in the US are very friendly and helpful. But a discussion on the radio explained it to me: people got sued in the past for helping the injured after accidents like this. Often, helpful people had to pay claims because they should not have tried to help, according to the victims or their families.

Because of these lawsuits, people got scared to help others. The government therefore made a law with the intention to protect these helpful Americans. The result: the good samaritan law protects people that provide help at the accident before medical specialists have arrived; they may provide this help as long as they are trained to do so. A related law is the duty to rescue : if you caused the accident or you have a special relation with the injured, you have to provide as much help as you can. To make it easier, these laws differ per state.

So in the end, you have to ask yourself three things before you intent to help an individual: did I cause the accident, or do I have a special relation with this person? If yes, you have to provide help. If no, do you want to help? If yes, please consider the following before you start: act rational, in good faith, and in accordance to your medical skills and education. The first thing you should do is call 911, to avoid a ticket. If you start to provide help, you are not allowed to leave the scene until someone with equal or better medical skills arrives. It is also not allowed to ask for any financial compensation after you have helped someone. But, you might be in a state with different laws!

Other than this news, it is extraordinary hot here; over 100 degrees, and it stays this way in the evening because of the high humidity. I have watched the European Championship soccer game of the Netherlands agains Italy today in the Irish Pub in Philly. The Italian community is large here: there were about 20 Italians, and only three Dutchies :( We all stayed positive though. And Orange has won the game!