In recent years, concerns regarding civil liability have prompted some entities and individuals to think twice before getting involved during an emergency.

A trio of bills, including one which is scheduled for consideration by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on Thursday, seeks to change that.


A-2178/S-1165                          Status: on AHE agenda, 5/10/12

Many New Jerseyans rely on healthcare services offered by federally qualified health centers, nonprofit clinics, and retired-but-certified volunteer physicians who provide treatment.  The threat of liability for these individuals and entities, however, is a powerful disincentive.   Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg would provide civil immunity to the aforementioned acting in good faith.


A-2099/S-1416                        Status: 2nd reading the Assembly

When a West Virginia woman was unable to speak after calling 9-1-1, first responders arrived at her home but did not have consent to forcibly enter.  She was later found dead by family members.  An assembly committee approved legislation which would grant civil immunity to first responders who must forcibly enter a property in order to provide emergency assistance.  It awaits consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee (contact Senator Scutari).


A-832/S-852                        Status: Signed into law

Automatic external defibrillators can save lives if they are used within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest.  That is why the John Taylor Babbitt (JTB) Foundation made it its mission to fundraise and donate AEDs to places of public assembly, according to the Chatham Patch and Mendham-Chester Patch.  The problem the Foundation encountered is that for each device donated, 8 – 10 were being rejected.  The reason, according to JoAnne Babbitt, is that some organizations, including churches, youth recreation leagues, and schools, will not accept a donated AED because of the increased liability they assume.  AEDs were not covered under New Jersey’s Good Samaritan law.

Fortunately, that changed with the stroke of a pen last week, as the Governor signed A-832/S-852 into law with overwhelming legislative support from both parties.  Senator Nicholas Scutari was the lone legislator to vote against it.  New Jersey has joined the ranks of 43 other states which grant civil immunity to those who own or utilize an automatic external defibrillator (AED) during a cardiac arrest.


Let’s hope the positive momentum help A2178 and S1416 materialize as well.