Dec. 24, 2011 By Christian Murray
An Astoria man fled from an attacker and sought refuge in a store early this summer. However, the store owner turned the man away claiming that he might get embroiled in a lawsuit.
To combat such scenarios, State Sen. Michael Gianaris (who represents Sunnyside and Woodside) has introduced new legislation expanding New York’s “Good Samaritan” laws. The legislation would protect local businesses and non-profits offering themselves as safe havens from being held liable for damages or injuries that may have occurred while helping a victim.
Gianaris held a press conference at Dazies, a well known Sunnyside restaurant.
“Protecting small businesses that rush to aid someone in distress will increase the safe havens available to crime victims and make our streets safer,” Gianaris said. “By encouraging businesses to act in good faith in an emergency, this legislation creates a stronger safety net for individuals who may otherwise feel apprehensive about travelling alone or in unknown neighborhoods.”
Currently, “Good Samaritan” laws only protect individuals from liability for damages or injuries incurred by a victim while seeking assistance in an emergency. Gianaris’ bill would extend those laws to pertain to local businesses and non-profits acting as safe havens to help individuals who feel at risk or victimized.
In November, politicians held an anti-crime rally with local leaders to protest the recent, unusual uptick in crime in western Queens. The elected officials used the rally to announce new crime-fighting initiatives to increase safety in the neighborhood, including the Gianaris measure to expand the “Good Samaritan” laws.
The legislation is co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas from Astoria.