Washington state has expanded its “good Samaritan” law to protect volunteers who help others during emergencies or natural disasters.
HB Bill 1209, sponsored by Rep. Dan Bronoske, D-Lakewood, passed both chambers of the Legislature this session with unanimous bipartisan support.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed it into law on April 16. It will take effect on July 25.
The law states that a volunteer won’t be liable for civil damages while providing nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency or disaster unless the act rises to the level of “gross negligence” or “willful or wanton misconduct.”
Previously the good Samaritan law only covered medical response. The Seattle Emergency Communications Hubs began pushing for the expansion last year, as volunteers became concerned about the limitation.
The new law will allow more people to help in response to these types of scenarios, Cindi Barker from Seattle Emergency Hubs said in a statement.
In a recent news release, Bronoske used the example of a volunteer breaking down a door or window without fear of personal liability when trying to help someone escape from a flood.
The expansion also covers response and rescue operations like providing food, supplies, transportation or child care, the law states.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.