What are Good Samaritan Laws? Unfortunately, we live in a society where people can and will sue you for anything. There is always a scummy lawyer willing to take advantage of you and take your money. For that reason, many people might be skeptical to rush into a situation to perform CPR or BLS and help someone out.
Good Samaritan laws vary by state and offer protection through the legal system to people who give assistance to those who are injured or appear to be injured or in some sort of emergency. The laws are intended to encourage a bystander to assist without fear of prosecution for assault, unintentional injury, or wrongful death.
This article is not meant to be legal advice. It is just a guideline. Contact a Lawyer in your state to learn more about Good Samaritan Laws.
Imagine that you see someone choking. You run over there, perform the heimlich manuever (chest thrusts) and save that person’s life using CPR or BLS techniques. Soon after, you get a letter from a lawyer stating that you never had consent to do what you did and you are being sued for assault or another ridiculous charge.
For this reason, we have Good Samaritan Laws. Good Samaritan Laws were created to protect people who act in an emergency situation. Nobody should feel scared to act in an emergency situation because of legalities. Someone’s life could be in danger and you might be their only hope.
Good Samaritan Laws vary by state. Different states have different definitions and liabilities for these situations and it’s important to research the laws in your state before learning CPR or BLS. Despite the differences in laws between states, there are a few important factors that apply to almost all situations as related to CPR.
You cannot receive any form of compensation for performing CPR.
You must act entirely out of good faith. Even if you save the life of some rich person’s daughter, the minute you accept compensation, it just became a business transaction and Good Samaritan Laws will not protect you.
Don’t Act Out of the Scope of Your Training.
While a Good Samaritan Law might protect you if you performed CPR or the heimlich manuever, it won’t protect you if you try and perform some odd medical procedure that you are not trained or qualified to perform. Stick to CPR, BLS, and First Aid procedures that you have been taught. For this reason, you should always keep your CPR training up to date. In some states, you are required to have a CPR certification to be covered by Good Samartian Laws.
Always Get Consent.
Whenever possible, get consent before acting. For example, if a person is conscious in any way, make sure to get a consent such as a head-nod or or hand symbol to show the victim needs help. In many states, if the victim is unresponsive or unconscious, consent is implied and you won’t be held liable for damages. If the victim is a child, try and get consent from a parent or guardian before asking.
Research Your State’s Good Samaritan Laws.
Listing all the state’s Good Samaritan Laws would be too long for this page so we urge you to research your individual state’s laws by consulting a lawyer or looking up the state laws on an official government website with updated laws. It’s always best to be informed of your liability as a professional or bystander and know your rights.