Should you help at a crash scene?

Austroads crash report on rear-enders first aid licence checks

Some riders worry about stopping to help at a crash scene because they are concerned about not having enough skills or being sued if something goes wrong.

However, First Aid for Motorcyclists instructor Roger Fance says riders – or first responders – should not be concerned.

“Most state Civil Liability laws have Good Samaritan clauses that protect people who act in good faith, with due care and not recklessly,” he says.

Importantly, there has never been a successful case of suing a first responder in Australia.

While it should not prevent people from providing emergency first-aid care, accredited specialist lawyer, Sean Delpopolo, from East Coast Lawyers on the Gold Coast highlights an important distinction of Good Samaritan laws in Queensland compared with other states.

He says the Queensland Civil Liability Act 2003 (‘CLA’) excludes liability for the negligence of someone rendering assistance in Queensland but only if they are acting for or on behalf of a prescribed entity, such as the ambulance, fire brigade, rescue helicopters etc.

“It does not protect someone from the general public from a claim in negligence,” he says. However, no one has yet been successfully sued.

“Members of the general public would, however, in my view, be protected in circumstances where they act reasonably, such that it doesn’t amount to negligence, as the victim will not be able to argue that the first responder breached any duty of care.

“If they arrive at an accident scene, the first thing they should do is contact emergency services on 000 and follow their instructions.  This will hopefully afford them the protection of the Act.

“If they can’t contact emergency services for whatever reason, however, then they should still help where they can.  They would need to carefully assess the situation to ensure that they are not going to take any action which might be deemed reckless or careless and then take whatever measures they consider reasonable, acting within their own specific skill set, knowledge and experience.

“If a good samaritan / first responder acts in good faith and reasonably, then a court would be hard pressed to make a finding that they were negligent and that their negligence caused or contributed to any further harm suffered by the victim.”

First Aid for Motorcyclists course

Roger says that if the first responder is directly involved in the accident, then they have a duty of care to provide first aid.

A first aider should seek consent from the casualty, if conscious, before performing first aid.

However, if the casualty is delirious or unconscious, then consent is implied because the casualty can’t make an informed decision, he says.

If the casualty is a child, then the first responder should seek permission from a guardian, if present.

“Once you have started providing first aid you must continue until the ambulance arrives,” Roger says.

First responders should also record what they do.

“It’s important to write down as much as you can remember after the accident as the police are likely to ask for a statement,” Roger says.

First responders should also take photos and get the names and contact details of witnesses. Make and keep copies of the information collected and hand it over to authorities.

First Aid for Motorcyclists course

We strongly urge all riders to undertake a first-aid course, in particular First Aid for Motorcyclists which is touring the country. CLICK HERE TO BOOK THE FIRST-AID COURSE

One thought on “Should you help at a crash scene?

  1. Sometimes the best thing you can do is stand back and do nothing if you don’t know what to do but then think what you can do that may actually help. I have done a number of first aid courses but the only time I have ever come close to needing to use that knowledge was when I witnessed a pedestrian get bowled over when she tried to cross the road at a marked crossing during peak hour. Cars had queued up and were stopped so she began early to cross but when the cars started to move the inattentive nong who should have seen her walking right in front of her took off. I could have attended to the unfortunate girl my self but by the time I was able to park my bike others had come to her aid. First I looked to ensure that they weren’t making things worse then I checked that an ambulance had been called then I took charge of directing traffic and cleared room for the ambulance to get through, I directed traffic until things settled down to a safe level gave my details to the police who showed up then some how still made it to work on time.

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