About 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the
hospital, but cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has been shown to more
than double a victim’s chance of survival if given properly and
immediately. The mouth-to-mouth resuscitation aspect of CPR goes back
as far as 1740, when it was first officially recommended by the Paris
Academy of Sciences to help drowning victims. The chest compression part
did not come for more than a century later.
Despite all this time, many Americans still don’t know how to perform
this life-saving technique.
What is an AED?
Enter the advent of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), portable
devices that check the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to
the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm in someone experiencing sudden
cardiac arrest. This condition, in which the heart unexpectedly stops
beating, halting blood flow to the brain and other vital organs, strikes
about 380,000 Americans each year. According to the American Heart Association,
a victim’s chance of survival drops by 7 percent to 10 percent for
each minute that passes without defibrillation. While people can be trained in how to use AEDs, the units are designed
to be almost self-explanatory so that any bystander is capable of helping
someone in cardiac arrest. Once costing around $4,000, they now sell for
as little as $1,000.
Are there laws about AEDs?
All 50 states have enacted laws or regulations requiring that certain public
gathering places have AEDs available. However, the laws vary greatly.
There are no uniform rules about where they must be located, if they should
be registered so authorities know where they are, whether a business that
installs one is fully protected from liability, or even if a business
has a duty to use one if someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest.
Here in Florida, multiservice senior centers and state parks are “encouraged”
to have AEDs, while local governments are authorized to use forfeiture
funds to buy AEDs for state and local law enforcement vehicles. Florida
requires functioning AEDs in all assisted living facilities with 17 or
more beds, all public schools with high school athletics and all state
buildings. Formal training of some or all “expected users”
is also mandatory.
Of course, AEDs can’t save lives if they aren’t in working
order or are malfunctioning. Like other medical devices, AEDs are susceptible to
defects and recalls. They also must be maintained. AEDs have batteries that must be replaced
every five years and electrode pads that have to be replaced every two years.
Initially, every state passed laws that included language giving “Good
Samaritan'' protection to anyone who uses an AED to try to save
a life. Since then, many have added provisions that limit immunity if
requirements for things like training, maintenance or registration of
AEDs are not followed. As a result, it can be difficult to know whether
companies, employees and bystanders have liability protection if they
buy or use an AED. Amusement parks, airlines, gyms and transportation
groups are among the entities that have paid significant damages because
AEDs were not available to revive sudden cardiac arrest victims. There
are currently several cases pending in courts across the country awaiting
determinations of the standard of care owed by businesses if a visitor
goes into cardiac arrest. These rulings will help decide whether the common
law duty for commercial property owners to provide emergency first aid
requires having an AED available.
We Can Help
If you or a loved one has suffered sudden cardiac arrest in a public place
that did not have an AED, you may be entitled to collect damages. You
may also have legal rights if you or someone you love was injured or killed
by an AED improperly used by a person who was insufficiently trained.
If the AED malfunctioned because of a defect in its design or manufacture,
a product liability action may provide money needed to support your family.
Entrust your case to the Miami
product liability attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. For 45 years, we have advocated for countless
personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. Contact
us by calling (305) 964-8644 or
filling out a free case evaluation form.
DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based
on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future
cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect
the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).