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Good Samaritan statutes: A summary and analysis

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  • Introduction: When asked by a teacher of law what must be done to inherit eternal life, Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him... For the most part, the law has not joined with Christian teaching in promoting compassion and encouraging emergency intervention. Unless exceptional circumstances prevail, the priest's and the Levite's behaviour, while morally reprehensible, is beyond the reproach of our system of common law. Furthermore, the Samaritan could be held liable if his attempt to provide relief exacerbated existing injuries or inflicted new ones. In recent years, however, legislators in most Canadian jurisdictions, believing the latter common law rule to be undesirable, have enacted what have come to be known as \"Good Samaritan statutes.\" This article will examine those statutes.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 1992 UBC Law Review Society and Mitchell McInnes. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • McInnes, M. (1992). Good Samaritan statutes: A summary and analysis. University of British Columbia Law Review, 26(2), 239-262. Retrieved from
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