Can I Be Sued For Doing CPR?

Can I Be Sued For Doing CPR?

I drove into Savannah to teach a CPR class last week .  Along the way are a large number of roadside billboards.  The closer to the city, the more signs.  Big signs, bright signs, attention grabbing signs.  And each one of them bearing a catchy phrase shouting out the outstanding performance of their clients.

Even at 70 miles per hour it was difficult to ignore these beacons of praise.  

“For the People!”   “Injured? Call the Hammer”.  “8** GET MIKE”.  “Size Matters After All”.  “I Fight. I Win. One Call, That’s All”. “High Heels, Higher IQ”.

Savannah appears to have more personal injury attorneys than it has potential clients.  All of them promising to turn your injury into a big pay day.  They can make a law suit out of anything.  How can a victim turn them down!

After having this “opportunity” burned into my retinas, I was struck by a question asked during our CPR class.  With genuine concern, a student asked, 

“Can I be sued if I give CPR to a stranger?”

That prompted other students to describe how they used to try to help strangers in bad situations but not anymore.  The fear of being taken to court had changed their minds about ever getting involved.  It seemed to be a common concern.  In response, I referred to the various sources on the internet.

In short, any one can sue any one.  That is just the way our society works.  There is always an advocate for any complaint:  just follow the money.  But also, there are important provisions in the laws to protect a “Good Samaritan” who selflessly and voluntarily provides help to an injured or ill stranger.

Every state has “Good Samaritan” laws that offer legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who they believe to be injured or in peril.    While the intent of these laws are the same, each state will have its own unique wording.  It is best to familiarized yourself with the rules in your own state. 

To qualify as a Good Samaritan, a person who provides assistance in an emergency:

Believes that a victim is in peril, injured or a life and death situation. 

Acts in good faith and with reasonable care.  

Acts voluntarily and without expectation of monetary compensation.

Does not act in a grossly negligent manner.

By offering liability protection, these laws encourage bystanders to become actively involved offering assistance to the victims of sudden dangers.  This is especially true of cardiac emergencies including cardiac arrest.  Providing immediate CPR to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest can make the difference between death and survival.  

Early Use Of CPR & AED

The early use of CPR and AED are two of the important links in the American Heart Association’s Chain of Survival for cardiac arrest

When a passerby fails to perform CPR or has no knowledge of the procedure, the chances of the cardiac arrest victim for survival decrease every minute by 7%.  More than 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest each year.  Considering that 65% of these occur in the home, it is easy to see that CPR training may just help your own family member.

CPR does help save lives.  Learning CPR is easy.  And giving a stranger CPR is not only helpful, it is encouraged by the laws.  Now you know that you can provide bystander CPR without worry, thanks to the Good Samaritan laws.

* Be sure to look into your state and local laws to what they say specifically and how that would apply to you.

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