Generally, Good Samaritan immunity laws are enacted by policymakers to encourage particular types of conduct. For example, the first Good Samaritan law, enacted in California during the 1950s, offered immunity to physicians who voluntarily stopped to render aid to accident victims.

The goal of this approach was to encourage physicians to act by reducing the risk of negligence lawsuits.

Similarly, starting in the mid-1990s, legislatures throughout the U.S. began enacting AED-related laws, including Good Samaritan immunity laws, presumably with the intent that such laws would reduce liability risks and therefore encourage more organizations and individuals to buy, place, and use AEDs in public settings.

Such laws now exist in every state and vary widely in structure, content, complexity, and scope of coverage. The level of legislative activity in this area continues to be robust with continuous efforts to modify existing laws or add AED placement mandates.

By Richard A. Lazar, Readiness Systems, LLCMember, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Advisory Council