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In a Heartbeat – Is an HOA liable if it provides an AED?

It happens in a heartbeat – literally.  Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries.  Studies have shown, however, that when bystanders intervene and start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”) or utilize an automated external defibrillator (“AED”), four out of ten victims actually survive this otherwise certain killer.

Community associations considering installing an AED at the clubhouse or pool are understandably concerned about liability. What if someone uses it incorrectly? Is the Association required to provide training? Should access to the AED be limited? What if the AED has not been maintained?



It is important to know that Virginia has a Good Samaritan law that provides protection to those who render aid to others in certain emergency situations. Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-225 includes a list of situations where the “Good Samaritan” will not be liable for acts or omissions in providing emergency care.

New legislation will expand the list of situations to include community associations that maintain an AED at the clubhouse, pool or other association property. HB 1988, introduced by Delegate Mark Sickles states that anybody who “[m]aintains an AED located on real property owned or controlled by such person shall be immune from civil liability for any personal injury that results from any act or omission in the use in an emergency of an AED located on such property unless such personal injury results from gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct of the person who maintains the AED or his agent or employee.”

Other situations listed in Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-225 already provide protection for those using the AED in an emergency situation include any person who:

  • In good faith and without compensation, renders or administers emergency CPR, cardiac defibrillation, including, but not limited to, the use of an AED or other emergency life-sustaining or resuscitative treatments or procedures which have been approved by the State Board of Health to any sick or injured person, whether at the scene of a fire, an accident or any other place, or while transporting such person to or from any hospital, clinic, doctor’s office or other medical facility, shall be deemed qualified to administer such emergency treatments and procedures and shall not be liable for acts or omissions resulting from the rendering of such emergency resuscitative treatments or procedures.
  •   Operates an AED at the scene of an emergency, trains individuals to be operators of AEDs or orders AEDs shall be immune from civil liability for any personal injury that results from any act or omission in the use of an AED in an emergency where the person performing the defibrillation acts as an ordinary, reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances, unless such personal injury results from gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct of the person rendering such emergency care.

To make sure that the association is covered by the Good Samaritan law, we suggest that any decision to install an AED on association property be based on an inquiry into information about AEDS, liability, insurance coverage, maintenance requirements, and training responsibility. If such inquiry, the association decides to proceed with placement of an AED, the Board should adopt a policy to address the maintenance of the AED, authorized users, training, and any other regulations to assure proper use of the AED, and the immunity from liability provided by the statute.  If in doubt as to whether an AED is right for your association, discuss the decision with your community association attorney. You may also consider these seven reasons to invest in an AED.  Although still developing, the research suggests that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

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Susan Tarley

Susan chairs the firm's common interest community (HOAs and Condos) practice area. She was admitted into the College of Community Association Attorneys (“CCAL”). Susan is one of fewer than 150 attorneys nationwide to be admitted to CCAL, for distinguishing herself through contributions to the evolution or practice of community association law.

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Filed under: Common Interest Community, HOA, HOA litigation, Susan B. Tarley, Unit Owners Association by Susan Tarley

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