California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

450B. Good Samaritan—Scene of Emergency


[Name of defendant] claims that [he/she] is not responsible for [name of plaintiff]’s harm because [he/she] was trying to protect [name of plaintiff] from harm at the scene of an emergency.

To succeed on this defense, [name of defendant] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] rendered medical or nonmedical care or assistance to [name of plaintiff] at the scene of an emergency;

2. That [name of defendant] was acting in good faith; and

3. That [name of defendant] was not acting for compensation.

If you decide that [name of defendant] has proved all of the above, but you decide that [name of defendant] was negligent, [he/she] is not responsible unless [name of plaintiff] proves that [name of defendant]’s conduct constituted gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.

“Gross negligence” is the lack of any care or an extreme departure from what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation.

“Willful or wanton misconduct” means conduct by a person who may have no intent to cause harm, but who intentionally performs an act so unreasonable and dangerous that he or she knows or should know it is highly probable that harm will result.

If you find that [name of defendant] was grossly negligent or acted willfully or wantonly, [name of plaintiff] must then also prove:

1. [(a) That [name of defendant]’s conduct added to the risk of harm;]

[or]

[(b) That [name of defendant]’s conduct caused [name of plaintiff] to reasonably rely on [his/her] protection;]

AND

2. That the [additional risk/ [or] reliance] was a substantial factor in causing harm to [name of plaintiff].


Derived from former CACI No. 450 December 2010; Revised December 2011

Directions for Use

Use this instruction for situations at the scene of an emergency not involving medical, law enforcement, or emergency personnel. (See Health. & Saf. Code,

§ 1799.102.) In a nonemergency situation, give CACI No. 450A, Good samaritan—Nonemergency.

Under Health and Safety Code section 1799.102(b), the defendant must have acted at the scene of an emergency, in good faith, and not for compensation. These terms are not defined, and neither the statute nor case law indicates who has the burden of proof. However, the advisory committee believes that it is more likely that the defendant has the burden of proving those things necessary to invoke the protections of the statute. (See Evid. Code, § 500 [party has the burden of proof as to each fact the existence or nonexistence of which is essential to the claim for relief or defense asserted].)

If the jury finds that the statutory standards have been met, then presumably it must also find that the common-law standards for Good-Samaritan liability have also been met. (See Health. & Saf. Code, § 1799.102(c) [“Nothing in this section shall be construed to change any existing legal duties or obligations”].) In the common- law part of the instruction, select either or both options for element 1 depending on the facts. see also CACI No. 425, “Gross Negligence” Explained.

Sources and Authority

  • Health and Safety Code section 1799.102 provides:

    (a) No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission. The scene of an emergency shall not include emergency departments and other places where medical care is usually offered. This subdivision applies only to the medical, law enforcement, and emergency personnel specified in this chapter.

    (b)

    (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage other individuals to volunteer, without compensation, to assist others in need during an emergency, while ensuring that those volunteers who provide care or assistance act responsibly.

    (2) Except for those persons specified in subdivision (a), no person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care or assistance at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for civil damages resulting from any act or omission other than an act or omission constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. The scene of an emergency shall not include emergency departments and other places where medical care is usually offered. This subdivision shall not be construed to alter existing protections from liability for licensed medical or other personnel specified in subdivision (a) or any other law.

    (c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to change any existing legal duties or obligations, nor does anything in this section in any way affect the provisions in Section 1714.5 of the Civil Code, as proposed to be amended by Senate Bill 39 of the 2009-10 Regular Session of the Legislature.

    (d) The amendments to this section made by the act adding subdivisions (b) and (c) shall apply exclusively to any legal action filed on or after the effective date of that act.

  • “ ‘Gross negligence’ long has been defined in California and other jurisdictions as either a ‘ “ ‘want of even scant care’ ” ’ or ‘ “ ‘an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct.’ ” ’ ” (City of Santa Barbara v. Superior Court (2007) 41 Cal.4th 747, 754 [62 Cal.Rptr.3d 527, 161 P.3d 1095], internal citations omitted.)
  • “By contrast, ‘wanton’ or ‘reckless’ misconduct (or ‘ “willful and wanton negligence” ’) describes conduct by a person who may have no intent to cause harm, but who intentionally performs an act so unreasonable and dangerous that he or she knows or should know it is highly probable that harm will result.” (City of Santa Barbara, supra, 41 Cal.4th at p. 754, fn. 4, internal citations omitted.)
  • “Under well-established common law principles, a person has no duty to come to the aid of another. If, however, a person elects to come to someone’s aid, he or she has a duty to exercise due care. Thus, a ‘good Samaritan’ who attempts to help someone might be liable if he or she does not exercise due care and ends up causing harm.” (Van Horn v. Watson (2008) 45 Cal.4th 322, 324 [86 Cal.Rptr.3d 350, 197 P.3d 164], internal citations omitted.)
  • “A person who has not created a peril is not liable in tort merely for failure to take affirmative action to assist or protect another unless there is some relationship between them which gives rise to a duty to act. Also pertinent to our discussion is the role of the volunteer who, having no initial duty to do so, undertakes to come to the aid of another—the ‘good Samaritan.’ . . . He is under a duty to exercise due care in performance and is liable if (a) his failure to exercise such care increases the risk of such harm, or (b) the harm is suffered because of the other’s reliance upon the undertaking.” (Williams v. State of California (1983) 34 Cal.3d 18, 23 [192 Cal.Rptr. 233, 664 P.2d 137], internal citations omitted.)
  • “A police officer, paramedic or other public safety worker is as much entitled to the benefit of this general rule as anyone else.” (Camp v. State of California (2010) 184 Cal.App.4th 967, 975 [109 Cal.Rptr.3d 676].)
  • Statutory exceptions to Good Samaritan liability include immunities under certain circumstances for medical licensees (Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 2395–2398), nurses (Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 2727.5, 2861.5), dentists (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 1627.5), rescue teams (Health & Saf. Code, § 1317(f)), persons rendering emergency medical services (Health & Saf. Code, § 1799.102), paramedics (Health & Saf. Code, § 1799.104), and first-aid volunteers (Gov. Code, § 50086).

Secondary Sources

4 Witkin, California Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Pleadings, § 594

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 1060–1065

Haning, et al., California Practice Guide: Personal Injury, Ch. 2(II)-I, Negligence Liability Based On Omission To Act—Legal Duty Arising From “Special Relationship,” ¶¶ 2:1985, 2:2005 (The Rutter Group)

1 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 1, Negligence: Duty and Breach, § 1.11 (Matthew Bender)

4 California Trial Guide, Unit 90, Closing Argument, § 90.90 (Matthew Bender)

33 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 380, Negligence, § 380.32[5][c] (Matthew Bender)

16 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 165, Negligence, § 165.150 (Matthew Bender)