You are here: Home > AED Implementation > AED Liability

Is there increased legal risk to me or my organization for implementing an AED program?

All organizations should evaluate the relative risks and benefits when considering the implementation of any program that affects employee welfare. According to the American Heart Association, to date, no known judgments have been rendered against the operator of an AED for negligent or improper use of AEDs. According to an article on AEDs and legal liability published in Air & Space Lawyer (a publication of the American Bar Association), “liability claims associated with the negligent operation of AEDs are mitigated by the difficulty in establishing that the operator proximately caused harm to the victim…The AED operator is attempting to resuscitate an individual who, absent the AED, will likely remain dead.”

By contrast, recent news indicates that corporations may face liability for failing to have an AED available to treat a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. For example, in June 1996, a Florida jury found Busch Gardens negligent for not properly training its employees to provide emergency care and for failing to have essential medical equipment, including a defibrillator, on the premises. The plaintiff was awarded $500,000 in damages for the death of her teenage daughter at the amusement park. This is just one example of many judgments that have been handed down since then as a result of not having AED's and properly trained individuals available in an emergency.

The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act passed by Congress in 2000 provides a model that states could adopt to encourage widespread use of AEDs and other lifesaving devices and provide immunity for those who give emergency care. Read the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act. Good Samaritan laws enacted by nearly every state enable a range of non-traditional emergency responders to use AEDs. In further support of these legislative efforts, Many AED manufactures offer customers an indemnification agreement to AED users in the event of product malfunction* (terms vary by manufacture).

In summary, the benefits of AEDs, the relative manageable cost of implementation and the lack of other effective treatment alternatives can present a compelling argument that corporations and other organizations might have a duty of care toward their employees, customers, patrons, etc. who may suffer sudden cardiac arrest. Failure to purchase and use AEDs could conceivably subject these corporations to an increasing liability risk in this rapidly evolving legal arena. It is important to read and understand your specific state law as it pertains to AED's. Find your states AED Law/s