LEGALITIES

Can legal action be taken against first-aiders?

The Health & Safety Executive states it is very unlikely that any action would be taken against a first-aider who was using the first-aid training they have received. HSE cannot give any specific advice on this issue as it does not fall within HSE's statutory powers.

It is recommended that you seek legal advice, or advice from your employer's insurance brokers on whether their policies cover first-aiders' liability.

You can however look at the S.A.R.A.H.'s Act 2015.

 

This Act applies when a court, in considering a claim that a person was negligent or in breach of statutory duty, is determining the steps that the person was required to take to meet a standard of care.

The stated purpose of the Act is to provide a greater degree of reassurance and protection to good samaritans, volunteers and those who may be deterred from participating in socially useful activities, such as administering first aid, due to worries about risk or liability.

First Aid - Duty of Care

Dictionary definition:

"a moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or well-being of others."

 

It means that you must conform to a standard of reasonable care while performing acts that could forseeably harm others. If you are attempting to provide first aid on a person and your actions are for the benefit of the casualty and the treatment is correct by the current standards then you will be fine. 

If a person claims negligence against you they must be able to show a duty of care imposed by law (IE current first aid teachings) which the defendant has breached, in other words you acted outside current teachings and got it wrong. 

It would be based on an objective standard such as current first aid teachings at the time of the incident against which any individual's conduct can be measured.  It is used to determine if a breach of the standard of care has occurred, provided a duty of care can be proven.

What is important to remember is that ones actions would be judged against those of a reasonable person of the same standing in a similar situation; the actions of a First Aider would therefore only be judged against those of someone of similar training and experience, not against the actions or decisions of a paramedic or doctor.

First Aid - Negligence

Negligence is a failure to exercise appropriate and or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances.

Someone who suffers loss caused by another's negligence may be able to sue for damages to compensate for their harm. Such loss may include physical injury, harm to property, psychiatric illness, or economic loss.

Example of negligence:

if a person inappropriately administered chest compressions to a casualty who was not in cardiac arrest, which caused damage to the chest wall or underlying organs, they would be causing damage which would not otherwise have been suffered as a result of your misdiagnosis.