Am I Liable if I give CPR?

September 17, 2014 Cheryl Smith AED, CPR, Hands-Only CPR, Liability

Almost every day, someone shares their concerns and fears of being held liable if they were to give CPR to a bystander.  It does seem like people can be sued for almost anything these days.  Have you read about consumers suing restaurants for causing them to be overweight?  Or criminals that sue their own victims for injuries caused while committing the crime?

With this sort of litigiousness being prevalent in our culture, many people tend to be cautious with their interactions with others. When it comes to giving someone CPR or first aid many fear their liability.  What happens if they break a rib or if the person isn’t resuscitated?  In the state of Tennessee there are protections in place for those who are, in good faith, attempting to provide assistance during an emergency.  Most states have these safe guards in place, they are usually referred to as Good Samaritan laws.

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Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law protects ANY person who provides emergency rescue, CPR or first aid from liability if they meet certain conditions:

  • The rescuer must be acting in good faith.  This means he or she is providing care to the person without any motive other than saving the person’s life or keeping them from further harm.  They may not receive any rewards or monetary donation.
  • The situation must be a potential life-threatening emergency and the care must be necessary to treat the injury.  Examples of life saving treatment are giving CPR, applying pressure for blood loss, giving rescue breaths, providing first aid or performing abdominal thrusts to a choking victim.
  • Care must be provided on a voluntary basis.  The caregiver must not have legal obligation to provide help nor can they be paid for providing assistance. A healthcare provider (i.e, paramedic, nurse, physician) that is on duty is not protected under Good Samaritan laws.  However, a healthcare provider that stops at the scene of an accident and provides first aid (while not on duty) IS protected.
  • You may not commit gross negligence.  The caregiver must not deliberately act in a way that would cause harm to the victim. This could include performing skills that you are not trained to perform.

The best way to protect yourself is to get certified in CPR and First Aid by taking a class from an authorized training center.  Keep your certification current, most certifications last 2 years.  As long as you are acting with true intentions of trying to save someone’s life,  you are not held liable.  If you have not been trained, please call 911 and get an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)!

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Good Samaritan Act – Article 4 ARS.#32-1471

Health care providers and other persons administering emergency aid are not liable. Any health care provider licensed or certified to practice as such in this state or elsewhere or any other person who renders emergency care at a public gathering or at a scene of an emergency occurrence gratuitously and in good faith, shall not be liable for any civil or other damages as the result of any act or omission by which person rendering the emergency care, or as the result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured persons, unless such person, while rendering such care, is guilty of gross negligence.

To read the entire Tennessee Good Samaritan Act, click here.

This article is not intended to be legal advice

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