As the awakening of responsibility consciousness in modern society, people became more cautious when interacting with strangers for fear of taking corresponding responsibilities. When noticed a victim accidentally, many will fall into a dilemma that whether to assist or not. Worrying to face the responsibility of victims, more and more people choose not to aid them. Then gradually, a phenomenon emerges the so-called social apathy. However, with the rise of Good Samaritan laws, which stem from a parable in the New Testament (Luke 10:25-37), legally, guaranteeing the Good Samaritans to help victims without bearing the relevant responsibilities. This article commences from the basic concept of Good Samaritan laws and aims to illustrate the necessity of Good Samaritan laws in the social apathy predicament.

Nowadays, conceptually, to promote public health and human life, universal Good Samaritan laws should allow unrestricted to provide emergency care to those really in need without fear of litigation, and universally applicable in emergencies regardless of the medical background of the rescuer (Thomas, 2017). Also, Thomas (2017) indicated, when the Good Samaritan laws are applied, emergency care and emergency situation are indispensable. According to Lee (2015), Good Samaritan laws are widely used in many jurisdictions such as European countries, Japan, and North America, though the legislative models vary from each other. In China, similar laws first appeared in Shenzhen, one of the most developed Economic Zones in China, which aimed to provide legal protection for Good Samaritan and eliminate people’s fear of being extorted by encouraging them (Lee, 2015). As Bu (2017) argued, not only should this law reflect social moral values, but also it needs to play a due role in remodeling morality in China’s fast-changing society.

As mentioned earlier, fearing to take victims’ responsibilities leads people to reduce their altruistic behavior toward strangers, which in turn results in social apathy. Take a case in Nanjing, 2006 an example, Peng helped Xu, who had a leg injury, and escorted her to the hospital (Bu, 2017). But Xu then sued Peng, alleging that she had been knocked down by him and claiming him to pay ¥40,000 for compensation. Surprisingly, the court ordered Peng to bear 40% of the medical costs on account of the lack of evidence and base on common sense that only the guilty one would assist the victim (Bu, 2017). As Bu (2017) points out, the foreseeable influence of this questionable case might cause a distrustful attitude for the public to aid the strangers who are in need and deepen the social apathy. To prevent the occurrence of similar events and remove the social indifference caused by cases alike, the necessity of Good Samaritan laws is becoming urgent. For example, Hung et al. (2019) report, through a cross-sectional survey by using a self-administered questionnaire in Hong Kong over 70% of participants agreed that Good Samaritan law is necessary, following a data that over 95% supported the promulgation of a Good Samaritan law since many of them thought the Good Samaritan law would change their willingness to aid the victims. In addition, seven China’s major departments, including the Ministry of Finance and Education, jointly announced a guideline in 2012 that ordered all departments and municipalities to settle the hardship which Good Samaritans facing (Lee, 2015). Thus, whether from the perspective that the public is willing to assist the sufferers or the government wants the Good Samaritan law to deal with social apathy predicament, Good Samaritan laws are essential both in promoting the benign development of society and forming a positive interaction between morality and the rule of law.

Designed to improve public health and reduce social apathy through dispelling misgivings for being extorted or facing the corresponding responsibilities, all the Good Samaritan laws mentioned above all concentrated on exempting the rescuers’ liability. However, in social practice, when the Good Samaritan laws are employed, lots of problems will be exposed due to the moral aspect of the law itself. For example, when a physician rescues a victim occasionally, the physician might have to participate in the entire trial to prove that he or she acted as a Good Samaritan which might cause Good Samaritan laws to become ineffective (Phelan, 1997). Furthermore, in some jurisdictions, like European countries, Good Samaritan laws are a legal duty for bystanders to assist the person in peril (Lee, 2015). Although these issues may affect the effectiveness of Good Samaritan laws to some extent, still, Good Samaritan law can play its due role from some basic things. As Thomas (2017) mentioned, we can define a Good Samaritan from some basic aspects such as the location of the emergency, no pre-existing doctor-patient relations, no expectation of remuneration, and so on. Also, take the Shenzhen Provision mentioned earlier as an example, although some think this provision lacks clarity and mixes up the morals and law, actually, it can be very flexible when dealing with complex issues and serve as a moral compass so that the People’s Court can exercise their discretion thoughtfully (Bu, 2017). Besides, unlike the laws in Europe, it is less coercive and punitive, diminishing the worry that Good Samaritan law will be too onerous for ordinary citizens (Lee, 2015). Therefore, though some issues still remain, Good Samaritan laws are indispensable to solve the social apathy.

As this article has argued, with the advent of Good Samaritan laws, people no longer had to worry about taking the relevant responsibilities of the one they rescue but proving they acted as Good Samaritans. Though at present many regions have their own Good Samaritan laws, many of the details are imperfect and may cause inconvenience for Good Samaritans to prove themselves. Rather than creating more laws, the former one needs to amend with more details but not too complex so that it can truly protect the Good Samaritans and break the social apathy predicament efficiently.


Bu, Q. (2017). The Good Samaritan in the Chinese Society: Morality vis-à-vis Law. The Liverpool Law Review, 38(2), 135-157.

Hung, K., Leung, CY, Siu, A., & Graham, C. A. (2019). Good Samaritan Law and bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation: Cross-sectional study of 1223 first-aid learners in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine, 1-8.

Lee, M. Y. (2015). The Role of Law in Addressing the Good Samaritan’s Dilemma: A Chinese Model? Asian Journal of Law and Society, 2(1), 55-92.

Phelan, J. P. (1997). Good Samaritan laws. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 177(2), 487-488.

Thomas, V. C. (2017). Good Samaritan law: Impact on physician rescuers. Wyoming Law Review, 17(1), 149-170.


您的电子邮箱地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注