As many people may have seen on January 2, 2023, during a Week 17 Monday Night Football game, Buffalo Bills Safety, Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field after making a seemingly routine tackle. After the play was over Hamlin stood up momentarily before collapsing and falling backwards. Hamlin had suffered cardiac arrest and was motionless on the field as team trainers and paramedics rushed to his side. Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored on the field after medical professionals initiated CPR, automated external defibrillation (“AED”), and other treatments to Hamlin on the field for ten minutes. Hamlin was ultimately hospitalized for nine days before being discharged on January 11, 2023.
Damar Hamlin is a professional athlete in great condition playing a sport he has been playing his entire life and yet without the assistance of an AED might not be alive today. With so many condominium or homeowner’s associations having facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts, among others it’s not unforeseeable for a similar incident to take place at a condominium. The question becomes whether it makes sense for condominiums with these facilities to also have an AED at the facility and available for use by unit owners, residents and guests.
At NFL and other professional sporting events with AED’s onsite they also have experienced medical professionals who are familiar with using AED’s and performing other lifesaving medical treatment. However, while there may be some exceptions, by and large at condominiums an AED would much more likely be used by a person with little or no experience in operating an AED. The question then becomes what are the liability implications for individuals operating an AED with limited or no experience and for the associations who make the AED’s available for use.
Many states have “Good Samaritan” laws which shields any individual who uses an AED with limited or no experience unless there is a showing of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Below is a brief example of different states and the laws that they have concerning the use of AED’s.
|Any person, whose usual and regular duties do not include the provision of emergency medical care, and who, in good faith, attempts to render emergency care including, but not limited to, cardiopulmonary resuscitation or defibrillation, and does so without compensation, shall not be liable for acts or omissions, other than gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct, resulting from the attempt to render such emergency care.
|No Good Samaritan provision and holds trained individuals, whether acting in an official capacity or as a private volunteer, liable for civil damages for any personal injuries which result from acts or omissions by such persons rendering the emergency care.
|Protection from civil liability extends to good faith rescuers and to AED acquirers, unless their acts or omissions were grossly negligent or willful and wanton.
|Good Samaritan protection extends civil immunity to any person or entity that acquires an AED, rescuers, owners, physicians, AED trainers, and anyone responsible for premises on which an AED is located, absent gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
|While the law encourages training on the use of AED, any person may use an AED for the purpose of saving the life of another and provided the device is equipped in a specific manner there is immunity from civil liability absent gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
As can be seen from the above, many states do provide protection to the untrained in operating an AED. If you are interested in learning more about AED’s at condominiums, please contact an attorney at Allcock & Marcus or email firstname.lastname@example.org.