The Legal issues at the scene of a accident?

Submitted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 21:43
ThreadID: 102158 Views:3349 Replies:11 FollowUps:19
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Wheres it start and where does it stop?, .. You are first on scene of a accident, first thing notify the police if its serious, traffic has to be controlled, if occupants are in car and appear to be seriously injured, do you attempt to help, if out of car same/.. if not qualified are you at risk of doing the wrong thing?,..We all want to help,..but if something else goes wrong because of a wrong decision whatever it might be, where do you stand?...with a legal system gone mad in this country its a worry!, ..just do your best and hope for the best i guess.

Cheers Axle.
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Reply By: Aussi Traveller - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 21:57

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 21:57
As a remote first aider I can tell you that in some States and Territories, you can not be sued for rendering first aid, in fact in the Northern Territory it is a criminal offence to do nothing.

I firmly believe that it should be part of your license to obtain a first aid certificate.

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Follow Up By: Axle - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:09

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:09
I think that would be a great idea as well Phil.
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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 12:54

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 12:54
could not agree more better still make it mandatory to have your license renewed every four years. And I thought this while serving in the police force many years ago.
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:06

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:06
Not in Victoria.
Volunteers have protection under the Wrongs Act 1958, the so called "Good Samaritan Laws"

Have a quick read Wrongs Act 1958

I am understanding that all states have similar acts.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:27

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:27
different situation, volllies are actiing in an official situation

FACT: no one has been successfully sued for rendering assistance in any state

if your giving assistance in good faith and as per your knowledge and training you are safe

the law is not always an ass
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:38

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:38
My error in using the term volunteers as I did, it should have said anyone who voluntarily acts to help another in need have protection under the Wrongs Act.

Dave if you read the detail I linked you will see why no one has been sued for rendering assistance, simply being they can't be sued.
Without laws offering such protection people would be somewhat reluctant to render assistance for fear of repercussions.

Law or not, it would be a very callous person that doesn't help others in need, I could not walk past someone and not try my best to assist.

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Follow Up By: IronMan - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 08:27

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 08:27
You are right, get outmore. I am pretty sure that you "cannot" be charged/sued in Australia for this. I recall this when I did my Workplace Senior First Aid.

IIRC, the laws as they stand say that you should render aid to the limit if your capability (ie: you shouldn't attempt open heart surgeries if you only have a certificate in band aid application) and you have the right to say that this injury is beyond my abilities.

The exceptions as I remember is that Doctors and Nurses are "obliged" to render all aid as they fall under different laws; and if CPR is commenced then it cannot be stopped unless the patient recovers, is declared dead by a Doctor, or the operator(s) is too exhausted to continue.

And, as John said, it'd be a damn poor Australian who doesn't help those in need.
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Reply By: Member - LG__ - Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:42

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 22:42
In my opinion... everybody should be taught basic first aid in high school, epsecially since St John's Cadets are being disbanded!

Or as suggested it should be a mandatory part of getting your drivers licence.

First Aid: D.R.A.B.C
D = Danger - to yourself, bystanders and the victim
Therefore, do not 'rush in' to help and put yourself in danger of being hit by another vehicle etc

Under WA laws passed in 2003, good Samaritans are protected from civil law suits when they come to the aid of another person in good faith and without recklessness

'Civil Liability Act 2002' and 'Civil Liability Amendment Bill 2003'
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Reply By: cookie1 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 08:14

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 08:14
My understanding is what has been said prior, I ask this question at each & every renewal of my Senior First Aid certificate and the answer typically comes back as " there has never been a successful suit.

When I first did the course a long time ago there was a set scale of compressions and breaths now you just pump that heart for them as they reckon that that will get enough air into them to survive - but if you can manage a breath every now & then, great.

it is now DRS ABC

Send for help

I make sure that there are always 2 first aiders in any trip and I would encorouage every 4 x 4 owner to do the course - it is good fun and you learn something new each & every time.

Stay Safe

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Follow Up By: Rockape - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 13:29

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 13:29
they have evan added another one drsabcd.

The D is for Defibrillation. I just get this all in may head and they keep adding more. lol.

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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 14:24

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 14:24
Yes I did forget to add the Defribrillator, don't know about you but I don't carry one in the car even though they are quite small but they are expensive and I reckon you would need to have it calibrated regularly.

Your spot on with the additions, when they ceased the compression to breath thing I thought great but then they added more letters :)

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Follow Up By: Rockape - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 15:03

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 15:03
Cookie, my wife is onto these defribrillators and has threatened to buy one to stop my heart so she can get some peace. Ha.Ha. I think. I am sure she means it in a nice way. Maybe.
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Reply By: olcoolone - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:06

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:06
Whether to give or not give first aid is a big can of worms........ nobody is obliged to give first aid and you can not be prosecuted for not giving it BUT if you start CPR on a person your are obliged to continue giving CPR until professional help arrives.

In other words you can give CPR but you are not qualified to decide when to stop CPR and determined when someone has become deceased. When you start giving CPR it becomes a duty of care situation for the person giving it and you could be prosecuted if you do stop but unlikely.

Nobody has been prosecuted for giving incorrect first aid and as said above there are laws protecting the first aider.

A first aider is not allowed to administer any form of drug....... even aspirin but can aid the sick or injured person.

You can advise someone to seek first aid and it is up to them on what they want to do.

Conscious and unconscious people have different rights to receiving first aid, if someone is conscious you have to ask them if they want you to help them and they can refuse help and there is nothing you can do....... is a person is unconscious then they have waived all their rights to receiving first aid.

Ambulance crews face this problem all the time whereby someone refuses help and all they can do is leave or wait for them to become unconscious before they can treat them.

End of the day it does come down to "duty of care" and becomes very very complicated.

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Follow Up By: Stefandsal - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:53

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:53
This isn't entirely true..if you commence CPR, then you can only continue for as long as physically possible. It is not easy to do CPR for a long period without the added benefit of, if you stop because you have to, you have done all you can.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 18:02

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 18:02
Quote " then you can only continue for as long as physically possible"

You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to work that out, maybe I should of put up a 2000 word disclosure statement outlining everything in detail....

In most situations in populated areas help will be close at hand and within 15 minutes...... so if you start CPR and you stop it after 5 minutes and your actions could of saved them then it becomes a duty of care issue...... if you didn't start CPR then there is no duty of care as nobody has to render assistance if they don't want to...... not even doctors or medics.

Adrenaline in high doses can benefit some heart attacks but not all.... if they suffer PVT then there is not much anyone can do unless their chest is opened to access the heart and with specialised equipment and the use of specialised drugs QUICKLY, if someone suffers the more common dysrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation again you need a defib machine like a AED to bring their heart back into rhythm...... then drugs will more then likely be administered including adrenaline to help stimulate the heart, and increase the sympathetic nervous system..... you know the fight or flight reaction.

In all cases high dose adrenaline can only be administered by a qualified trained person, if not then you could have an Adrenaline overdose to deal with...... an epipen is not high does.

So if someone is available to administer high dose adrenaline there is a good chance they would have higher qualification than the average joe blow first aider...... in that case they would call the shots.

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Follow Up By: dagree - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 23:08

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 23:08
"A first aider is not allowed to administer any form of drug....... even aspirin but can aid the sick or injured person."

Not sure about other states but at my last refresher course we were told here in WA that the only drug that could be administered by a first aider is Ventolin for an asthmatic.

Doing my refresher in two weeks so will re-ask the question.
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 05:40

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 05:40
What about an epipen. We were taught how to to inject a person with one if they had an allergic reaction.

One thing you can't do, is administer first aid if the person says no.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 08:50

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 08:50
You can administer any drug if the person was aware and conscious and approved and in sound mind.

Prescription drugs and medication can only be used on the person they are assigned to.

But you can not recommend a drug for them to take...even Aspirin.

What you have to understand is certain drugs can interfere with prescription medication they are on...... if they are on heart tablet or blood thinners taking one Aspirin or Ibuprofen may make them bleed internally.

Ventolin and epinephrine (epipen) in most cases the person will be concious and if not administered could lead to death...... most who need Ventolin and epinephrine will carry it one them as a precaution.

There are two types of Ventolin, one when you're having an attack and the preventer..... the preventer and epipen are reasonably safe.

But still you really need to seek their permission.

The other way around it is to seek advice and approval from a medical professional and then you can....... like contacting a duty doctor at the RFDS.

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Follow Up By: Aussi Traveller - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 18:50

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 18:50
Hey Rockape

Not having a go, but once the patient is unconscious you are allowed to render assistance.

With Remote fist aid you can use the rfds blue first aid case ( can't remember it's name) found on most mine sites and remote stations ETC, this can only be done under the direct supervision ( telephone) of a rfds doctor.

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Follow Up By: Rockape - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 20:04

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 20:04
No! all is well. As you say you can help someone once they can't help themselves.

I have worked remote for many years and the nurses always contacted the Flying doctors for permission to administer any drugs.

I don't know how asprin got into one of the replies as that just blows me away, when you are talking about keeping someone in this world who is badly hurt.

Also the reference to Asthma and allergies that the person will have the gear on them to treat it. This is for Olcoolone. I suffer from asthma and I don't really care but I do know how to help that problem. Bad allergies the person normally can't even breath let alone tell you that you can administer, an epi-pen that you have pulled out of the nether world I can't even go there as they will have the pen on them.

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 21:41

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 21:41
Most people who are in a conscious state who have a known illness can usually indicate to someone somehow what they need....... and it comes down to how good the bystander can recognise their illness and follow their directions.

I don't think too many people carry epipens and Ventolin in the first aid kits is they don't suffer from something that requires them.

We carry an Epipen and Ventolin in our first aid kit but then again our first aid kit is not the average kit.

Went away with an old member on this forum Andrew (Doc Holliday) and I cracked my head open on a tree branch....... he had stitches on board but the anaesthetic turned me off...... thought they only used hammers in the movies.

QUOTE"I have worked remote for many years and the nurses always contacted the Flying doctors for permission to administer any drugs."

Remote properties have the RFDS remote kit with some pretty lethal drugs in it..... the only way they can use any is on advice from a RFDS medical doc...... everything is numbered and they have to keep records of the use.

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Follow Up By: Aussi Traveller - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 00:38

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 00:38
olcoolone that is the kit I refer too, as a remote first aider I can use that under strict RFDS supervision, ( via telephone or radio)
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:37

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 10:37
Many years ago we lived in a small town not that far from a capital city but far enough away that an ambulance, if available would have been some 20-30 minutes away. We had a fully equipped ambulance supplied in part by fund raising in the community and part by a government grant. All staffing was done by volunteers, of which I was one, and our training was conducted by the professional ambulance service in our state. Apart from the practical life support training we were given a good grounding in the legal responsibilities of what we were taking on. Being vollies we were protected by the so called "Good Samaritan Act". AFAIK that is still in effect.
One extra facet that came into being during my term was the protection of ambulance crews from blood or saliva born diseases such as AIDS and the various strains of hepatitis. We were advised to carry and use a small plastic device to use if we did not have access to the ambulance equipment and there was any open wound that might allow the patients blood to enter our bodies if we were to attempt to apply breathing assistance during CPR. I would certainly not recommend anyone not rendering whatever aid they are capable of but maybe something to keep in mind. Maybe another reason why chest compressions alone are now deemed to be the recommendation.

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Reply By: Pathycop - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 14:31

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 14:31
Hey axle

Just one point. It's not the legal system that has gone mad. The "system" provides protection to those who do right, and compensation to those who have been wronged.

It's the members of the general public who seek to abuse and manipulate a good system for their own selfish and personal financial gain that make the "system" appear to be mad.

Just my thoughts!

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Reply By: Robyn R4 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 15:41

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 15:41
Stefandsal...never forget to look outside the square when it comes to "how long can you keep it up". My dad's an ex-St Johns teacher. He tells of a true story where a couple were on a remote beach, late in the day. He collapses. She cannot carry him, nor do CPR throughout the night.
BUT she did not do CPR constantly! She did it for a while, then rested for a short period (not enough for oxygen deprivation to start!) and then started up again...she was able to maintain this for a few hours until someone came looking for them!
To all of you...
PLEASE...if you are doing a first aid course, make sure BOTH of you do it! How do you know it's not the trained first aider who's going to be unconscious?!
Never dismiss a patient by their looks, either. My parents both did their senior first aid exam in preparation to work for St Johns and they were given a scenario of a bus crash where they were the first on the to work out who to treat etc...
They were taught that the nice looking lady may have had terminal cancer and only months to live anyway, and the scruffy bloke that was overlooked may have been a poor uni student who may well one day find a miracle medical cure...
Don't think that something is out of your league...a tiny paramedic on the Sunshine Coast used to do CPR on big blokes with her heel on their chest! She got the required depth of compressions!!
I'd be a widow or married to a brain-damaged man if my husband's mates didn't do CPR on him when he had an accident 16 years ago. As it was, the ambo's needed to put the "paddles" on him 3 times to get him going again.
Do a course. Do your best. Do consider "if that was my mum/dad/brother etc would I want someone to walk away from them?" You are protected by law if you do what you can, for you are just a passer-by with a simple certificate and the will to help.
It may not be nice. My neighbour was the first on the scene when a bikie nearly beat the train...
But I have Irish blood in me and believe in Murphy's Law - I have a certificate so I hopefully never have to use it (so far, so good!!)
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 18:05

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 18:05
So true.......
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Reply By: Barbera72 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 16:11

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 16:11
20 or so years ago, I drove past a scene of an horrendous car crash on a semi-remote rural road. I was the first on the scene then a plumber drove past with his van after 5 minutes. We were isolated and none of us had mobile phones at that time. The passenger of one car was dead while in the other car a family of three with a toddler were all still alive but I didn't know how serious their injuries were. The toddler was crying. My legs were shaking and I was getting a big nauseating feeling I guess because the amount of blood around and the dead body in the other car. None of us had any knowledge of first aid. We decided to cut the car open with some of the plumber tools to free the toddler and we took ages, maybe 20 or 30 minutes. In the meantime another car arrived and we told him to drive to the nearest town to call an ambulance. When the family was finally free to exit the wreck, the plumber took care of the toddler and he seemed ok and I stayed with the parents. They were in shock and full of blood and not sure if they were injured seriously. In that entire time spent at the accident scene until the ambulance arrived I never thought, even for a split second about being sued. I don't know if we did the right things or acted appropriately by the law but I guess in such situation everything was dictated by instinct. PS: the family fully recovered from the accident with minor scars.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 00:49

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 00:49
You did your best, that's all that matters!

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Reply By: The Landy - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 15:01

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 15:01
It is possible many will have a different view on this, but the best way to approach it is to ask yourself, "what would I want someone to do if it was me lying there".

At that point you'll know the answer on how to approach the situation...

My two bob's worth...!
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Reply By: landseka - Monday, May 13, 2013 at 18:11

Monday, May 13, 2013 at 18:11
IMO a lot of these thoughts of legal ramifications come from urban myths.

One such myth I recall is the one where a person is trapped in a car which then caught fire.
The person first on scene successfully dragged the driver from the car but in the process further damaged a minor spinal injury resulting in paraplegia.
While this was happening another bystander arrived and with an extinguisher, put the fire out.
The injured person then sued the rescuer saying he wouldn't have burned but now couldn't walk.
The (supposedly) moral of the story?....walk away for your own good.

A little o/t, a friend a long while ago visited Saudi Arabia and while there discovered that if, while driving anywhere, you were to witness an accident, get the hell out of there. Under their laws, if anyone or anything (camel etc) is injured then everyone goes to jail, witnesses included, until any guilt is determined.

Cheers Neil
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