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Obligation to Render Aid to Shooting Victim…

January 27, 2010 Legal Issues, State Firearms Laws, Use of Force Issues No Comments

Question:  I am in the Army National Guard, a combat vet, and need some help on this. I just took a job as a corrections officer and while going through the training on Pressure Point Control Tactics we were told that if we use these methods on someone in self defense we are required by law to provide aid to the person afterwards because we are trained. I have never heard anything about this in the Army and I carry a gun religiously. Does this mean I have to provide aid if I shoot someone in self defense just because I am trained professionally to use a firearm. If this is true could you please include the ARS and if not please provide proof so I can educate the rest on my class.
Thank You Very Much

Answer: There are a couple of different issues here that we need to separate and discuss.  Probably the first thing would be to help you understand the “Good Samaritan Law” in Arizona.  Under this law and in the absence of any “special relationship” with the injured party, a bystander has no duty or obligation to render assistance to an injured party,  regardless of the circumstances or the bystander’s ability to render aid or assistance.  This is further extended to say that if the bystander does render aid “gratuitously and in good faith” they cannot be held liable for civil or other damages unless they are guilty of ‘gross negligence’.  The full text of the law is provided at the end of this article.

To address your first question, as a corrections officer acting in an official capacity, are you obligated to render aid to someone under your care if they are injured or incapacitated?  The answer to this question is “Yes”.

An exception to the ‘Good Samaritan Law’ exists when there is a ‘special relationship’ which gives rise to a duty to aid or protect.  An example of that special relationship would be your role as a corrections officer.  As a corrections officer, you are required by law to take custody of another under person which may deprive them of their ‘normal opportunity for protection’.  In other words, you are responsible for the prisoners while they are in your custody and are therefore required to render aid should they be injured or become incapacitated.

In your second question, you asked if the fact that you had firearms training required you to render aid if you shot someone in self-defense.  I am assuming that you are asking this question as an armed private citizen, not as a law enforcement officer of any kind.  As a private citizen, you are under no legal obligation to render aid to a person that you had legal justification to shoot in self defense.  In a self defense shooting, I would call 911 and request assistance from law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, but would not attempt to render aid myself since to do so might put me at additional risk from my attacker.  Consider the possibility that the criminal could be feigning injury in an attempt to get you to approach so that they could attack and regain the initiative or escape.

I hope this clarified the differences in the two situations for you…

ARS 32-1471 – Health care provider and any other person; emergency aid; nonliability

Any health care provider licensed or certified to practice as such in this state or elsewhere, or a licensed ambulance attendant, driver or pilot as defined in section 41-1831, or any other person who renders emergency care at a public gathering or at the scene of an emergency occurrence gratuitously and in good faith shall not be liable for any civil or other damages as the result of any act or omission by such person rendering the emergency care, or as the result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured persons, unless such person, while rendering such emergency care, is guilty of gross negligence.

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