Welcome to Professor Zachary D. Kaufman’s database of “Bad Samaritan laws”: statutes that impose a legal duty to assist others in peril through intervening directly (also known as “the duty to rescue”) or notifying authorities (also known as “the duty to report”). This database currently contains 201 Bad Samaritan laws from around the world and throughout history that are either enacted, no longer in effect, or were proposed but not enacted.
Citation of Database
Preferred citation of this database in Bluebook format is: Bad Samaritan Laws, Zachary D. Kaufman , http://www.zacharykaufman.com/bad-samaritan-laws (last visited [date last visited]). Preferred citation in Chicago Manual of Style format is: Zachary D. Kaufman, “Bad Samaritan Laws,” accessed [date last visited], http://www.zacharykaufman.com/bad-samaritan-laws.
Professor Kaufman is currently writing a book (under contract with Cambridge University Press) about Bad Samaritan laws and other aspects of bystanderism and upstanderism. His writing to date on bystanders and upstanders, including Bad Samaritan laws, has been published by or is forthcoming in the Boston College Law Review, the Southern California Law Review, the Stanford Law & Policy Review, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Daily News, and Foreign Policy magazine (here and here).
This database will be updated periodically. If you would like to suggest an addition or amendment to this database, please contact Professor Kaufman using this form.
Distinction between Good and Bad Samaritan Laws
In contrast to Bad Samaritan laws, “Good Samaritan laws,” which are not covered in this database, grant statutory immunity from civil damages when administering care. In other words, Good Samaritan laws protect against liability when helping whereas Bad Samaritan laws punish for not helping in the first place.
Glossary and Acknowledgments
Searching and Filtering the Database
Clicking on the hyperlinked title of a Bad Samaritan law allows you to view more information about that particular law. This database can be used to search and filter these statutes. Keywords can be entered into the search bar at the top of the page. The filters (more than one of which can be applied simultaneously) listed along the right side of the page are, in the following order:
- Type of Duty: This filter allows you to select for Bad Samaritan laws based on the type of duty the statute imposes. The options include a duty to intervene directly (“the duty to rescue”), a duty to notify authorities (“the duty to report”), or a duty to report or to rescue.
- Emergency: This filter allows you to select for Bad Samaritan laws based on the relevant emergency. The options include criminal activity, emergencies unrelated to crime, or either such situation.
- Age of Victim: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on any victim age restriction in the statutes. The options include selection for Bad Samaritan laws that apply only when the victim is a child, under the age of 7, under the age of 12, under the age of 14, under the age of 18, under the age of 21, an adult (without age specification), or the age of the victim is unspecified. Some Bad Samaritan laws may be associated with more than one age of victim, as in when a law imposes a duty to report on abuse of a “child” and then defines “child” to mean a person under 18 years of age.
- Punishment Permitted: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on the punishment that the statute permits. The options include only imprisonment; only a fine; a fine and/or imprisonment; corrective labor and/or public censure; fine, imprisonment, and/or corrective labor; or the statue doesn’t indicate any particular punishment. For options that include more than one type of punishment, the filter will include only those laws that allow for all of those types of punishment. Thus, if a law is punishable only by fine, it will not be included when the filter for “fine, imprisonment, or corrective labor” is selected.
- Type of Offense: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on the level of the offense indicated by the statute. The options include where the punishment may only be classified as a misdemeanor, felony, misdemeanor or felony, civil penalty, violation, or the statute doesn’t indicate any particular offense level.
- Country: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on their geographic jurisdiction. At the top of this filter is a box in which you can type the name of a particular U.S. state, U.S. territory, or country. The name of that jurisdiction will appear if any Bad Samaritan laws are associated with it. You can then select that jurisdiction to view the corresponding laws. The first general filter option, “United States,” will return Bad Samaritan laws (federal, state, and territory) in the United States. The arrow next to this general option expands the list to show sub-options for particular U.S. states and territories. The second general filter option, “Other Countries,” will return Bad Samaritan laws for countries other than the United States. The arrow next to this general option expands the list to show sub-options for particular countries. The third general filter option, “International,” will return laws promulgated by international organizations or agreements. For laws originally written in languages other than English, click to view the entire law to find an English translation.
- Level: Like the “Country” filter, the filter for “Level” allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on their geographic jurisdiction. The option of “Subnational” filters Bad Samaritan laws that apply only to a state, province, territory, or other subnational unit. The option of “National” filters Bad Samaritan laws that apply to whole countries. The option of “International” filters Bad Samaritan laws that apply to multiple countries. The “Level” filter can be used in combination with the “Country” filter. For example, selecting “United States” in the “Country” filter and “Subnational” in the “Level” filter will return Bad Samaritan laws at the U.S. state and territory levels. As another example, selecting “United States” in the “Country” filter and “National” in the “Level” filter will return Bad Samaritan laws at the U.S. federal level. As another example,
- Subject Matter: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on their subject matter. The options include whether they apply to a person in peril, crime generally, crime endangering human life or welfare, abuse, child abuse, child abandonment, sexual abuse, felonies, enumerated felonies, enumerated crimes, online exploitation, violent offenses, political campaigns, car accident, hazing, combat, atrocity crimes, public health emergencies, property crimes, a dead body, or a judicial process (such as a wrongful conviction). For definitions of these terms, please see the glossary here.
- Status: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan legislation based on the bill’s status. The options include whether the legislation is enacted (“in force”), no longer in effect (“obsolete”), proposed legislation that was not enacted (“failed”), or proposed legislation that is still under consideration (“proposed”).
- Temporal Requirement: This filter allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on the amount of time, if any, the duty must be discharged. The options include “promptly,” “immediate,” “timely manner,” “within 24 hours,” “within 48 hours,” “within 72 hours,” “as soon as reasonably practicable,” or a time period is not indicated (“unspecified”). Some Bad Samaritan laws may be associated with more than one temporal requirement, as in when a law imposes a duty to report immediately and not later than a set amount of time (e.g., 24 hours, 48 hours).
- Report Recipient: This filter relates allows you to select Bad Samaritan laws based on to whom the emergency must be reported. The options include police officers and other members of the executive branch of government charged with carrying out and enforcing criminal law (“law enforcement authorities”), official organizations or government departments with particular responsibilities and decision-making powers (“authorities”), or no party is specified (“unspecified”). Some Bad Samaritan laws may be associated with more than one report recipient, as in when a law imposes a duty to report to law enforcement or other authorities.