Legal Memorandum: Employee's Liability for Responding in an Emergency

Issue: Is an employee who is not expected by the employer to act as a first responder, but who is nonetheless trained to provide medical services, potentially liable if they voluntarily respond in an emergency?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Employee's liability; First responder; Medical emergency
Jurisdiction: Federal, Kentucky
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Ky. Rev. Stat. § 411.148; Minn. Stat. § 604A.01; Ky. Rev. Stat. § 342.690
Date: 10/01/2008

If an employee is not a first responder, but is nonetheless trained in CPR or another specialty and voluntarily chooses to offer assistance, that employee is immune from liability for any negligence under the Kentucky Good Samaritan Act.  Under Ky. Rev. Stat. § 411.148, no “person certified as an emergency medical technician,” or “person certified by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation . . . shall be liable in civil damage for administering emergency care or treatment at the scene of an emergency outside of a hospital, doctor’s office, or other place having proper medical equipment excluding house calls, for acts performed at the scene of such emergency, unless such acts constitute willful or wanton misconduct.”  The statute clearly limits the immunity to those persons who are appropriately licensed or certified and providing emergency care that is not “rendered for remuneration or with the expectation of remuneration.”  Cf. Minn. Stat. § 604A.01 (extending immunity to all “persons”); see also Cook v. Taylor, 208 Ky. App. LEXIS 264, Nos. 2007-CA-000122-MR, 2007-CA-000221-MR (Aug. 22, 2008).   Accordingly, neither first responders who are designated and paid by an employer to provide medical assistance nor untrained employees who assume the duty to provide medical assistance appear immune from liability under the Good Samaritan Act.

The employee is immune from personal liability in any event by operation of Kentucky workers’ compensation laws so long as any negligence that could be attributed to their actions arose out of the scope of their employment.  […]

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