Is there a lawyer on board? In-flight emergencies and other Good Samaritan acts

The legal liability of paramedics and other health professionals who perform Good Samaritan acts, particularly in response to in-flight emergencies on commercial aircraft, is a topic about which there is disproportionate and largely unwarranted concern. It is often a surprise to many people that English law imposes no ‘duty of rescue’ and also makes no special provision for the person who does intervene as a Good Samaritan.The common law principle is that a bystander has no legal obligation to come to the aid of another person but, if they choose to do so, then they must exercise due care and may be liable if they fail to do so and end up causing harm.This article explains the concept of the ‘duty of care’ in relation to paramedics and other health professionals, highlighting circumstances when they may be liable for negligence, and provides guidance for dealing with in-flight emergencies.

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