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South Australian attempt to protect “Good Samaritans”

In an increasing litigious society and to encourage people to give assistance where it is needed the South Australian Minister for Volunteers introduced a Bill into parliament in late 2001 to limit the liability of people for injury arising out of genuine attempts to help victims in emergency situations. Called the “Good Samaritans (Limitation of Liability), it defined a “Good Samaritan” as a person, acting without any expectation of payment or consideration who comes to the aid of a victim in an emergency or who gives advice about the treatment of a someone apparently in need of emergency treatment. Under the Bill the Good Samaritan is not liable for personal injury to the victim arising out of a genuine attempt to help the victim unless gross negligence is established. Media reports indicate that there have not been any cases of an injured person suing their rescuer and regard the Bill as publicising the lack of risk to potential helpers rather than preventing litigation. While there is no similar legislation in other states, NSW has legal protection for medical professionals who attend an emergency and render assistance on a voluntary basis (there are limitations to this exemption in fairly extreme circumstances).

Label instructions on consumer products . . .

  • On a Sear's hairdryer: do not use while sleeping.

  • On packaging for a Rowenta iron: do not iron clothes on body.

  • On Boot's children's cough medicine: do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.

  • On most brands of Christmas lights: for indoor or outdoor use only.

  • On a Japanese food processor: not to be used for the other use.

  • On Sainsbury's peanuts: Warning: contains nuts.

  • On a child's superman costume: wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

  • On a Swedish chainsaw: do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.

(Contributed by Barry Pless, who cannot confirm the veracity of these instructions!)

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