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How the Good Samaritan Law Encourages Citizens to Perform CPR & Save Lives


Imagine sitting in a restaurant and enjoying a tasty meal when a man at the next table clutches their chest and keels over as if he had a heart attack. If you have a certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), then you might spring into action and start performing CPR on the victim.

However, even if the victim survives but suffers from some type of medical condition, you may be at risk of litigation. Yet, lawmakers around the nation have developed good samaritan law CPR regulations that can protect you in such a situation. 

Keep reading to learn all about exactly what the good samaritan law CPR requirements are and the different state laws that protect bystanders who have performed CPR or used an Automated external defibrillator (AED) to try to save a life.

What is Good Samaritan Law CPR? 

Good samaritan laws implemented in states across the country attempt to protect people who help those in need from litigation. What is the good samaritan law for CPR use?

A perfect answer to this question is when someone may have suffered from a heart attack when hiking in the woods, and a passerby attempts to save his or her life via CPR but does not succeed. 

When EMTs show up, they find the victim has died. The family of the victim may want to sue the good samaritan by claiming the passerby was responsible for the death. However, a good samaritan law would protect the passerby from litigation.

A good samaritan is someone who is unselfish and helps others, including strangers. Legally, it is someone who provides aid to an injured person voluntarily.

To learn how to perform CPR even without certification, check out this guide on the three steps of call, push, and shock. This means calling 911, then performing hands-only CPR, and finally using an AED to shock and restart the heart of someone who has undergone cardiac arrest.

See AED laws & regulations by state

How Good Samaritan Law Works

The Good Samaritan Doctrine protects ordinary civilians from legal troubles if they attempt to assist a person who is undergoing cardiac arrest or facing some other injury. Furthermore, the Good Samaritan Doctrine encourages the public to perform CPR and use an AED by protecting bystanders from legal liability.

Essentially, good samaritans cannot be sued, fined, or arrested for performing an action that assists an injured person. If the victim can communicate, the good samaritan law will only protect the bystander if the victim hasn’t objected to being helped.

This law relates to negligence regulations, which require able-bodied people of sound mind to assist and help others in the event of an emergency. If someone can assist the other person without putting themselves at risk, then they are legally required to do so according to negligence laws.

Medical Emergency

A medical emergency is something that occurs when a person gets injured or suffers from a sudden health-related condition. An example of this is when a person has a sudden cardiac arrest while out jogging on the street. In such a case, a good samaritan may stop to help the victim.

Gross Negligence

Gross negligence is a breach of the duty of care. It entails a rather severe form of negligence where it can be considered reckless, malicious, fraudulent, or wanton endangerment of someone’s life. An example of this may be when a driver is speeding well past the speed limit in a school zone where children are walking.

Good Faith

Good faith is a term defined as honest dealing. It entails devoted and honest actions or performance of duties. It can also mean pursuing fair dealing standards. An example of this is when a woman who was certified in CPR a few years ago performed CPR on a person who wasn’t breathing as best as she could. 


Immunity is freedom from any legal requirements to conduct actions or face actions. You can think of this as immunity from litigation or prosecution. A good samaritan that may have led someone to break a rib while saving their life by performing CPR may have immunity from prosecution.

Good Samaritan Laws By State

All 50 states in the United States of America have some sort of good samaritan law in place. Here, we will discuss the below states, and click the links below to view each state’s full AED legislation.

Essentially, every state in the U.S. has a good samaritan law in place.

Good Samaritan Law in California

CPR good samaritan law California regulations involve encouraging the public to help injured people in the case of a medical emergency. The Good Samaritan statute in California keeps people from being sued if they provide aid in the case of an emergency. However, gross negligence cannot be employed, and reward cannot be expected.

Good Samaritan Law in Maryland

The Maryland good samaritan law CPR requirements specifically focus on helping people who have had an overdose from ingesting drugs or alcohol and are amid a cardiac arrest. 

This means that any person who experiences or sees a medical emergency due to an overdose cannot be arrested or prosecuted for possessing a controlled substance, possessing drug paraphernalia, or providing alcohol to minors.

Good Samaritan Law in Illinois

The good samaritan law Illinois CPR regulations have four elements that must be reached to protect a good samaritan from legal prosecution.

  1. Assistance needs to be offered due to an emergency
  2. The good samaritan cannot have caused the emergency to occur in the first place
  3. The good samaritan cannot use gross negligence when offering aid
  4. If possible, the victim must give consent to obtain help from the good samaritan

Good Samaritan Law in Texas

The Texas good samaritan law CPR requirements protect bystanders who provide aid from negligence lawsuits when they act in good faith as well as when a person can perform actions as a good samaritan. Essentially, they can conduct life-saving actions at the scene of an emergency or in a hospital.

Good Samaritan Law in Tennessee

Tennessee good samaritan law CPR rules specifically focus on protecting people from liability when they use an AED to save a life or perform CPR. Essentially, a person does not need the training to use an AED to be protected from a negligence lawsuit. However, a business that allows this to happen may be held liable.


Now that you have read through this guide, you should have a strong understanding of the good samaritan laws in different states across the country. However, it is important to note that some states around the nation apply Imminent Peril statutes.

In this case, a good samaritan law may not protect a good samaritan unless the person they helped is immediately in the midst of severe danger, injury, or even death. 

Furthermore, gross negligence when performing a life-saving act is also problematic and may lead the helpful bystander to be prosecuted without immunity from the good samaritan law. Nonetheless, clearly, the good samaritan law protects those who assist in a medical emergency from litigation.

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