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Liability for Performing CPR on Customers?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

On this Good Samaritan Day, a question for business owners: Can you face liability if you or an employee gives CPR to a customer?

Performing life-saving aid like CPR on customers may seem like the conscientious thing to do, but it may expose your company to legal risks.

Here's general overview of what you need to know:

Employees Save Lives, Open Door to Litigation?

As a business owner you should strive to employ people who go out of their way to help others. A Louisville-area Domino's had such an delivery driver, who earlier this month performed CPR on a man who wasn't even a customer. Gary Lucas had just finished his delivery shift when he ran to assist a woman in performing CPR on her husband, reports Louisville's WAVE-TV.

With the help of life-saving aid, customers can often survive or have their injuries mitigated with the help of employees. However, the door to liability can open if customers are injured or even killed due to an employee's "help."

Duty to Help, Good Samaritan Laws Explained

In general, there is no duty under the law for your employees to stop and administer emergency help. In addition, you can even lawfully fire an employee who leaves his or her post to help someone out.

But if that employee does administer CPR (or other emergency aid) and cracks a customer's ribs, then that customer could potentially sue the employee and your company for negligence.

But there is a saving grace: Good Samaritan laws. In most states, this principle will prevent negligence suits from being levied against anyone who makes a good faith effort to administer aid in an imminent emergency.

Businesses With Special Duties

These Good Samaritan rules will protect most businesses (e.g., the Louisville Domino's) from legal risk, but administering CPR is trickier if your business has special duties.

Medical professionals, teachers, first responders, lifeguards, caretakers, and their respective employers may be held to a higher standard when their CPR efforts lead to injuries. Many of these employers have a duty to properly train their employees in administering CPR, and there may be a special duty to give emergency aid to the customer/patient/client/student.

In these cases, the legal shield from liability offered by Good Samaritan laws may not apply and businesses would be liable for failing to rescue or failing to properly train an employee.

Your business should have a policy on emergency aid. If you need help drafting one, or if you have more questions about potential liability when it comes to CPR, consult an experienced business attorney.

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