Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law

In December 2018, a Nashville newspaper photographer collapsed on Broadway before the Nashville Christmas Parade.  A nearby pastor, acting as a “Good Samaritan,” used his church’s AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) and saved the photographer’s life!

This column explains Tennessee’s “Good Samaritan Law.”

Q. What is the “Good Samaritan Law”?

Like other states, Tennessee has a “Good Samaritan Law” to encourage individuals to aid a victim during a medical emergency. The law protects caregivers from legal liability for injury or death to the victim if they act in good faith and make no direct charge for care.

Tennessee’s law covers the general public, including anyone using an AED, and also protects doctors, nurses, trained medical staff, professional emergency service staff, and volunteer first aid, rescue, or emergency squad members. 

The law provides protection from any legal liability at the scene of an accident, medical emergency, or disaster; while traveling from the scene to a medical facility; and while assisting medical personnel at the receiving medical facility.

The law protects receiving medical facilities from legal liability for damages as a result of any act or omission by a member of a volunteer first aid, rescue, or emergency squad.

Q. Are there any conditions in Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law?

Yes, there are two main conditions:

(1)  Any person giving aid must do so “in good faith.”  This means that the person who is helping another in distress must have no motive other than saving the person's life or keeping the victim from further bodily harm.

(2)  The person giving aid makes no direct charge for providing emergency care.

Q. What about emergency care that is planned for a public event?

Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law also applies to any free or ticketed events, such as sporting events, religious gatherings, and banquets and arts performances. 

Jim Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney based in Gallatin. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. All cases are different and need individual attention. Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case. You can call (615) 452-9200 to suggest future column topics.

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