2020 Georgia Code
Title 51 - Torts
Chapter 1 - General Provisions
§ 51-1-29. Liability of Persons Rendering Emergency Care

Universal Citation: GA Code § 51-1-29 (2020)
  1. Any person, including any person licensed to practice medicine and surgery pursuant to Article 2 of Chapter 34 of Title 43 and any person licensed to render services ancillary thereto, who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victims thereof without making any charge therefor shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured person.
  2. As used in this Code section, the term "emergency care" shall include, but shall not be limited to, the rescue or attempted rescue of an incapacitated or endangered individual from a locked motor vehicle.

(Ga. L. 1962, p. 534, § 1; Ga. L. 2015, p. 598, § 2-1/HB 72.)

The 2015 amendment, effective July 1, 2015, designated the previously existing provisions of this Code section as subsection (a), and in such subsection, deleted "including" following "Title 43 and" near the beginning, and deleted "victim or" preceding "victims thereof" near the middle; and added subsection (b).

Cross references.

- Emergency assistance to persons choking, § 26-2-374.

Implied consent to surgical or medical treatment in emergency situations, § 31-9-3.

Liability of persons licensed to furnish ambulance service who render emergency care to victims of accident or emergency, § 31-11-8.

Liability of law enforcement officers for actions taken while performing duties at scene of emergency, § 35-1-7.

Limitation of liability for death or injury relating to operation of "911" emergency telephone system, § 46-5-131.

Limitation of liability for persons rendering assistance at scene of boating collision, accident, or other casualty, § 52-7-14.

Law reviews.

- For article, "The Good Samaritan Laws: A Reappraisal," see 16 J. Pub. L. 128 (1967). For article, "Killing, Letting Die, and the Case for Mildly Punishing Bad Samaritanism," see 44 Ga. L. Rev. 607 (2010). For article on the 2015 amendment of this Code section, see 32 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 63 (2015). For annual survey of tort laws, see 67 Mercer L. Rev. 237 (2015). For note, "Good Samaritan Laws - Good or Bad?," see 15 Mercer L. Rev. 477 (1964). For comment, "Good Samaritan Laws - Legal Disarray: An Update," see 38 Mercer L. Rev. 1439 (1987).


Scope of section.

- While medical practitioners are included in this section, it is manifest that "any person" who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victims thereof "without making any charge therefor," although not a licensed medical practitioner, is exempt from civil liability as a "good Samaritan." Wallace v. Hall, 145 Ga. App. 610, 244 S.E.2d 129 (1978).

Good Samaritan Statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-1-29, applied when a truck driver witnessed an accident on a highway in which two vehicles veered off the road into a ravine and the truck driver stopped in an emergency lane to run into the ravine to provide assistance; summary judgment in favor of the driver, the driver's employer, and the driver's insurer in a suit brought by passengers in a car which collided with the driver's truck within minutes was proper. Reid v. Midwest Transp., 270 Ga. App. 557, 607 S.E.2d 170 (2004).

Emergencies in which doctors are protected.

- Doctors who by chance are called upon to render emergency care are protected by O.C.G.A. § 51-1-29; however, occurrence of an "emergency" will not invoke the immunity afforded by § 51-1-29; if it was the doctor's duty to respond to the emergency. Clayton v. Kelly, 183 Ga. App. 45, 357 S.E.2d 865 (1987).

Trial court properly granted summary judgment to a doctor in a medical malpractice action by a patient, based on the application of the "Good Samaritan" exemption from liability, as the patient was treated at the scene of an emergency as a result of tornado injuries, the patient received emergency care due to the unforeseen circumstance that called for immediate action, and the fact that the patient was not in a critical or life-threatening condition was not a dispositive fact because the physician did not have a contractual duty to render treatment, as the physician was not scheduled to be in the emergency room at that time, and the physician was not compensated for the services. Willingham v. Hudson, 274 Ga. App. 200, 617 S.E.2d 192 (2005).

Doctor present in hospital when emergency arises.

- Physician is not deprived of immunity by the fact alone that the physician works at the hospital, or is present at the hospital, or is called to the hospital when the emergency arises. If there was no prior duty to respond and there was no prior doctor-patient relationship, one is not created by the event of the emergency. Clayton v. Kelly, 183 Ga. App. 45, 357 S.E.2d 865 (1987).

Physician's skill does not create duty.

- Fact that a physician is skilled in the subject matter in question or that the exigency lies within the physician's expertise does not create a duty when none existed before; in fact such persons are particularly encouraged by the Good Samaritan statute to volunteer their aid. Clayton v. Kelly, 183 Ga. App. 45, 357 S.E.2d 865 (1987).

Rule of sudden emergency is that one who in a sudden emergency acts according to one's best judgment or, because of want of time in which to form judgment, acts in the most judicious manner, is not chargeable with negligence. Webb v. Perry, 158 Ga. App. 409, 280 S.E.2d 423 (1981).

Trial court did not err in entering summary judgment in favor of an arts center in a widow's wrongful death action because the center owed no duty to provide emergency medical services to the husband; the widow pointed to no statutory enactment that would impose a duty on the center to provide emergency medical services to the patrons of the center's concerts, and no common law principle imposed such a duty. Boller v. Robert W. Woodruff Arts Ctr., Inc., 311 Ga. App. 693, 716 S.E.2d 713 (2011).

Burden of proof is on the physician to establish a prima facie case in support of a Good Samaritan liability defense, and when genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the physician was a volunteer not under some preexisting duty to render medical care, summary judgment is precluded. Henry v. Barfield, 186 Ga. App. 423, 367 S.E.2d 289 (1988).

Summary judgment proper.

- In a negligence action filed by the parents on behalf of their injured child, because jury questions remained as to whether a doctor had to provide immediate "emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency" to the child within the meaning of the Good Samaritan statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-1-29, as well as the employer-hospital's immunity from any vicarious liability, summary judgment was erroneously entered against the parents and in favor of both the doctor and the hospital. Gilley v. Hudson, 283 Ga. App. 878, 642 S.E.2d 898 (2007).

In a tree trimmer's negligence suit against a friend and the property owners (the defendants) of certain land upon which the tree trimmer was cutting limbs off of trees and fell from a ladder, the trial court properly granted the defendants summary judgment as there were no genuine issues of material fact existing to establish that the defendants' actions in delaying medical care and allegedly improperly moving the tree trimmer after the fall caused any of the injuries that were incurred. Henderson v. Sargent, 297 Ga. App. 504, 677 S.E.2d 709 (2009), cert. denied, No. S09C1399, 2009 Ga. LEXIS 790 (Ga. 2009).

Summary judgment improper on doctor's motion for directed verdict.

- Testimony of one of the patient's experts in a medical malpractice case, which described the patient's situation as an orthopedic emergency that had to be treated within six hours, was not evidence that warranted the grant of a directed verdict on the doctor's Good Samaritan defense under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-29; a jury question existed as to whether the doctor provided the patient with emergency care upon circumstances requiring immediate action. The trial court properly charged the jury regarding the defense, and did not err in denying the doctor's motion for a directed verdict or post-trial motions on the Good Samaritan defense. Gilley v. Hudson, 299 Ga. App. 306, 682 S.E.2d 627 (2009), cert. denied, No. S09C1986, 2010 Ga. LEXIS 8 (Ga. 2010); cert. denied, No. S09C1987, 2010 Ga. LEXIS 24 (Ga. 2010).

Cited in Gordon v. Athens Convalescent Ctr., Inc., 146 Ga. App. 134, 245 S.E.2d 484 (1978); Gragg v. Neurological Assocs., 152 Ga. App. 586, 263 S.E.2d 496 (1979); Emory Univ. v. Porubiansky, 248 Ga. 391, 282 S.E.2d 903 (1981); Gragg v. Spenser, 159 Ga. App. 525, 284 S.E.2d 40 (1981); Abdel-Samed v. Dailey, 294 Ga. 758, 755 S.E.2d 805 (2014).


Certain persons rendering aid to accident victims protected by section.

- Ga. L. 1962, p. 534, § 1 (see now O.C.G.A. § 51-1-29) appears to relieve one not at fault but involved in an automobile accident from liability because one is required under the provisions of Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, §§ 40, 41 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 40-6-270) to render aid and provide transportation to a hospital, even though one believes that one is not competent to undertake such responsibility. 1967 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 67-333.

Certain persons required by law to render aid not volunteers within scope of section.

- Good Samaritan Law exempts volunteers aiding victims from liability for their negligence as long as the assistance is rendered in good faith; when, however, the victim is employed by an industry, which must comply with 29 C.F.R. § 1910, requiring the employer to maintain certain first-aid facilities, the employer and persons employed by the employer in a first-aid capacity are not volunteers, but are under a legal duty to assist; they are not protected by the Good Samaritan Law, and the employer and the employer's first-aid employees are responsible to exercise reasonable care. 1972 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U72-62.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 61 Am. Jur. 2d, Physicians, Surgeons, and Other Healers, §§ 163 et seq.


- 70 C.J.S., Physicians and Surgeons, § 51.


- Liability for medical or surgical services rendered inmates of public institutions, 44 A.L.R. 1285.

Negligence of third person, other than physician or surgeon, in caring for injured person or in failing to follow instructions in that regard as affecting damages recoverable against person causing injury, 101 A.L.R. 559.

Hospital's liability as to diagnosis and care of patients brought to emergency ward, 72 A.L.R.2d 396.

Construction and application of "Good Samaritan" statutes, 68 A.L.R.4th 294.

Rescue doctrine: liability of one who negligently causes motor vehicle accident for injuries to person subsequently attempting to rescue persons or property, 73 A.L.R.4th 737.

Modern status of sudden emergency doctrine, 10 A.L.R.5th 680.

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