Every state in the country has Good Samaritan laws. These laws were enacted to protect you if you administer CPR or other emergency help in good faith
It’s a bad scenario. You render aid to someone who’s in distress, possibly saving their lives. The next thing you know, you’re hit with a lawsuit.
In a perfect world where people act with good intentions, this scenario shouldn’t even be possible. You might wonder why anybody who’s been trained to administer first aid and CPR would do it when there’s a possibility of this happening.
Here’s reassuring news. If you’re trained to administer CPR – and you’re delivering it in an emergency situation – you are most likely protected by what’s known as a Good Samaritan law. Here’s what you need to know:
Good Samaritan laws aren’t the same in every state
Every state in the country has Good Samaritan laws. They were enacted to protect you if you administer CPR or other emergency help in good faith. It’s important to note that the information you’re reading here should not be taken as legal advice – especially because Good Samaritan laws vary by state.
Most of these laws, however, cover the same general aspects:
Why you’re acting
Good Samaritan laws protect those of us who selflessly agree to help. This means you’re performing life-saving services like CPR without any expectation of a reward. These laws generally do not apply to medical or emergency rescue staff. These professionals are paid for their services, whereas you’re likely acting out of the goodness of your heart.
Some states have Good Samaritan laws constructed in such a way that your protection may be revoked if you end up being given a reward for your efforts – even when there was no expectation.
Do you need to be certified?
Being certified to perform CPR is, unfortunately, a requirement in some states in order to be protected under their specific Good Samaritan laws. But many states have shown a higher commitment to encouraging their residents to feel comfortable about responding and rendering aid in emergencies.
While it is very important to be properly trained in the CPR technique, survival rates for victims of cardiac arrest are boosted even when someone administers this aid in a less-than-perfect fashion. If anything, this should be the reason that you decide to undergo formal training and receive certification.
The consent requirement explained
You must have someone’s permission to legally provide CPR or other first aid. The loophole is that someone who has gone into cardiac arrest or is otherwise unconscious is unable to provide this consent.
Because every minute counts, Good Samaritan laws generally protect you by permitting you to assume consent would be given to save someone’s life. This may include the use of an automated external defibrillator.
For this reason, you should immediately determine whether someone is conscious. Call out to them and ask, “Are you okay?” Do this even before checking to see if they have a pulse. Even people who aren’t trained in CPR can save a life by performing just chest compressions.
First things first
If you’ve taken a CPR certification course, you know that you should immediately call 911 and report the situation before attempting to render aid unless it’s an infant or small child who isn’t breathing or lacks a pulse; this situation calls for two minutes of immediate CPR. It’s also crucial to make sure both you and the person you’ll assist aren’t in any danger.
The ability to save a life should never be put into doubt by concerns about liability. It’s why all 50 states have Good Samaritan laws in place. Get certified and then keep your CPR certification current – and follow your training in an emergency.
To review Florida’s Good Samaritan Act, click here.