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Good Samaritan Laws

In an emergency situation, when life literally hangs in the balance, some people choose to do nothing because they fear being sued. In most states, provinces and countries, Good Samaritan laws protect bystanders who attempt to save someone’s life using CPR or an AED. To qualify for protection under a Good Samaritan law, the provider must:

– Ask permission (if the victim cannot reply, consent is implied)

– Act within the scope of their training

– Provide help voluntarily

Good Samaritan laws protect bystanders who step forward in an emergency situation to help, with no expectation of reward. In some areas, accepting a gift after the fact can negate the law’s protection, so it’s a good idea to refuse any form of gratitude beyond a simple, “thanks.”

In most areas, Good Samaritan laws protect bystanders who come to the aid of another whether their CPR training is up-to-date or not. That said, performing CPR correctly greatly increases the victim’s odds of survival.

Good Samaritan laws do not cover actions beyond the scope of your training. For example, if an accident victim suffers a broken rib as the result of receiving CPR, it is unlikely the provider could be successfully sued. If that same provider tries to set a broken leg and s/he does not have medical training to do so, the victim may have grounds for a lawsuit.

Good Samaritan laws vary by state/province and country, and this article is not meant to provide legal advice.

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