Good Samaritan Action – brought by a person or group for the benefit of all or part of a community; often immunizes those acting in good faith from liability

     This page is continued from Getting Started >>>> Representing Yourself “Pro Se” or Assisting Others as a Non-Lawyer:


Good Samaritan action:

l. A deed performed gratuitously by a person to help another who is in peril. — aka Good Samaritan act.

2. A lawsuit brought by a person or group for the benefit of all or part of a community.

Good Samaritan doctrine:

1. Torts. The principle that a person who is injured while attempting to aid another in imminent danger, and who then sues the one whose negligence created the danger, will not be charged with contributory negligence unless the rescue attempt is an unreasonable one or the rescuer acts unreasonably in performing the attempted rescue.  Cf. EMERGENCY DOCTRINE; RESCUE DOCTRINE; LOST-CHANCE DOCTRINE. [1]

1. The doctrine that a person who intervenes to aid someone in impending danger has a duty to exercise care so as not to leave the object of the rescue in worse condition than if he had not intervened.  If failure to exercise due care results in injury, the rescuer will be held liable.  In some jurisdictions, the good Samaritan doctrine is referred to as the rescue doctrine.  Note that the law does not require one to be a good Samaritan — only to exercise due care if she chooses to be a good Samaritan. [2]

good-samaritan law:

1. A statute that exempts from liability a person (such as an off-duty physician) who voluntarily renders aid to another in imminent danger but negligently causes injury while rendering the aid.  *  Some form of good-samaritan legislation has been enacted in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia.  Under some circumstances, the term applies to a statutory provision that immunizes one from liability for accidental damage caused by a good-faith attempt to protect another.  For example, § 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects cellphone-service providers that remove third-party applications under a good-faith belief that the applications may be harmful to subscribers. — aka Good Samaritan law. — aka good-samaritan statute; good-samaritan clause. [1]

     Excerpt from Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce’s Criminal Law (3d ed. 1982):

     “The so-called ‘Good Samaritan Statutes’ . . . do not require aid to be given.  They merely encourage doctors to stop and give aid to strangers in emergency situations by providing that no physician who in good faith renders such aid shall be liable in civil damages as a result of acts or omissions in rendering such aid.  Some states have enacted statutes that require a person who is able to do so with no danger or peril to himself to come to the aid of another who is exposed to grave physical harm. [3]

Similar Terms and Doctrines:

equity-of-the-statute rule – a statute should be interpreted according to the legislators’ purpose and intent, even if this interpretation goes well beyond the literal meaning of the text.

golden rule – (1) the doctrine that legal terms should be taken into context to avoid absurdity or inconsistency; or (2) an argument given to jurors to consider a litigant’s position. 

purposivism – texts are to be interpreted to achieve the social, economic, and political objectives that drafters had in mind.

What does Good Samaritan mean?

     The Good Samaritan Doctrine derives its name an concept from Luke 10:25-37; here is a translation from New Living Translation (NLT) edition of the Bible:

The Most Important Commandment

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?

26 Jesus replied, What does the law of Moses say?  How do you read it?

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

28 Right! Jesus told him.  Do this and you will live!

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?

Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 By chance a priest came along.  But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.  Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.

36 Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits? Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.

Then Jesus said, Yes, now go and do the same.” [4]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

[1] Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 661 (3d ed. 1982).

[4]: Bible Gateway, “Luke 10:25-37New Living Translation (NLT)”: 


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