To get help for individuals that overdose and other emergencies, some states developed the Good Samaritan law.
In 2017, the Missouri legislature passed a bill designed to reduce overdose fatalities by providing immunity from criminal prosecution for certain crimes, according to
Cody Wiegers, an associate attorney for Kranitz, Sadoun and Carpenter law firm, said there are several parts to this statute.
“Under the normal Good Samaritan, protections are limited to individuals who have some level of medical training or medically authorized to provide care generally. And the public health and welfare chapter allows for any individual seeking care or treatment for someone who’s experiencing an alcohol or drug overdose to seek treatment without having to worry about civil liability. There are, of course, limitations under the statute,” Wieger said.
This law can help, especially as St. Joseph sees an increase in overdose cases to encourage individuals to call for help without the fear of police involvement.
“In Missouri, there’s generally no duty to help an individual, duty and liabilities are created when you and an individual have a special relationship, and you have a duty of care to that person,” Wiegers said. “The legislature still wants to encourage people to help today. Good people. So it’s a way for the legislature to decrease the chances of civil and criminal liability for people who are trying to help in an emergency situation.”
Wiegers said under the Good Samaritan, individuals generally don’t have to worry about liability for seeking treatment for drug or alcohol overdoses and getting arrested or having their possessions seized.
“There are some limitations in the statute about that there’s no absolute, but it allows individuals to seek treatment for an individual who is overdosing and not have to be as concerned about criminal liability,” Wiegers said.