Accidents in India
- According to the 2014 annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau around 4.5 Lakh cases of road accidents took place that year, killing 1.4 Lakh people and injuring 4.7 lakh.
- Research published in the Indian Journal of Surgery suggests that 80 per cent of victims fail to receive emergency medical care in the ‘golden hour’ after the accident.
Good Samaritan – People who come to the aid of someone in need.
- Low adherence to road user norms
- Issues regarding fitness of vehicles
- Low adherence to passenger/weight carrying capacity
- Lack of use of road safety devices
- inadequate manpower for enforcement of existing provisions of law.
Why People don’t stop to help
- World Health Organisation (WHO) in its report titled ‘Prehospital trauma care systems’ lists factors that may prevent bystanders from helping the injured
- a lack of knowledge about what to do
- fear of legal consequences if one’s actions are ineffective or harmful
- fear of involvement in a subsequent investigation
- Majority of the people fear being caught up in long legal proceedings , repeated police questioning and court proceedings.
- People have the notion that touching the body could lend them liable for police interrogation. Playing safe they chose to wait for the police to arrive .
- It is seen as an unnecessary invitation to trouble
Good Samaritans Guidelines
A PIL was filed in Supreme Court in 2012 by Save Life Foundation , an NGO asking it to issue necessary directions to the government of india to frame guidelines in respect of Good Samaritans for protecting those who help accidents victims from legal hassles
Supreme court Appointed committee –
Headed by former judge K.S. Radhakrishnan gave 12 recommendations like
- Setting up of State Road Safety Councils
- Evolving a protocol for identification of black spots ,their removal and monitoring
- Better implementation of rules relating to drunken driving, over-speeding, red light jumping and helmet or seat belt laws.
- The Supreme Court in 2014 directed the Government of India to issue Good Samaritans guidelines .The guidelines were notified by the Indian government last year .
- The guidelines were approved by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
This decision of the Supreme Court granting legal teeth to the guidelines is crucial as with the court’s order, the guidelines and standard operating procedures have become binding in all states and union territories.
These guidelines were to be followed by hospitals , police and all other authorities involved.
- Any bystander , eyewitness or good Samaritan can take the accident victim to nearest hospital , they can leave the hospital immediately except the eyewitness who has to provide his/her address
- The bystander or Samaritan can not be forced to register as a witness .
- They will be suitably rewarded or compensated as decided by the state governments
- They will not be liable for any civil and criminal liability
- Any person who makes a phone call to inform the police or emergency services about the person injured in accident , will not be forced to reveal his name and personal details on the phone or in person. Disclosure will be voluntary and optional .
- If the bystander or Samaritan has stated him/herself as an eyewitness and is needed to be examined . Such person should be examined only in one occasion.
- The state authorities are required to come up with a standard operating procedure within 30 days to ensure that the Samaritan or bystander is not harassed.
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shall issue guidelines stating that all registered public and private hospitals are not to detain bystander or good Samaritan or demand payment for registration and admission costs, unless the good Samaritan is a family member or relative of the injured
- If the Samaritan wants an acknowledgement that (s)he brought an injured person at so and so time , the hospital can not refuse.
- All public and private hospitals are required to implement these guidelines immediately
- If possible means like video conferencing should be used.
- stringent actions against police officers and doctors who harass people acting in good faith or who refuse treatment to accident victims
- The guidelines need a statutory backing, a private members bill is pending in parliament and a draft has been prepared by Save Life Foundation.
- Only Karnataka has moved forward and is about to have a Good Samaritan law and other States must follow its lead
- People are unaware about their legal rights as Good Samaritans
- Supreme Court had earlier this year asked the governments to widely publish guidelines through electronic and print media to spread awareness and encourage people to act , the advertising should be on a campaign mode so that people get to know their rights faster.
- Issues like compensating the auto rickshaw or cab which was used to bring the injured person, compensating for any aid provided need a legal backing so that people can ask for the expenses incurred in the way.