What You Need to Know about Wrongful Death Suits Involving Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs)

The Bottom Line: AEDs Can Save Lives.

The survival rate is 90% when someone correctly administers an automated external defibrillator (AED) within the first minute of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

For each minute it takes to deploy an AED, the survival rate drops 7-10%.

The average response time for first responders is 8-12 minutes. By then, the survival rate falls well below 50%, if not zero.

AEDs have been engineered and manufactured so that nearly anyone can deploy one to save someone suffering from SCA.

AED Statutes at a Glance

On a positive note, as of 2010, 50 states have enacted defibrillator use laws or adopted regulations.

However, most states still don’t have laws requiring gyms, health clubs, athletic events (hosted by schools, colleges, and other organizations), and public venues such as restaurants to have AEDs and personnel trained to use them.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Fatalities in the U.S.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a medical emergency in which the heart suddenly loses the ability to pump blood.

SCA is the leading cause of death in the United States. In a 2018 report, the American Heart Association counted over 356,000 annual out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States.

Indeed, the out-of-hospital survival rate for all age groups is low: Nearly 90 percent are fatal.

And that needs to change.

Also, SCA inflicts the most unacceptable tragedies.

Young people and children who participate in sports and athletics are at higher risk for death from CTA than those who don’t participate.

Some statistics:

  • About 2,000 people under 25 die from SCA each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • The risk of suffering SCA is 10 times higher during practice or play because the heart has to work harder.
  • In high school athletes, sudden cardiac arrest is the No. 1 cause of death.

Effective, Affordable, and Easy to Use.

Abundant evidence has established that the shock AEDs administer can restore normal heart rhythm, which saves lives.

These machines can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars and are simple enough for elementary-school-aged children to use.

And contemporary AED models self-administer the shock, meaning a human doesn’t have to yell “clear” and hit the button. This eliminates user error.

AEDs and AED Usage Laws


Federal law requires large commercial airplanes and all airports under FAA jurisdiction to have AEDs.

Since 2000, the federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act has required the placement of AEDs in federal buildings and protected non-medically trained AED users from civil liability.

The Act also appropriated $25 million in local grants to purchase AEDs.

In 2002, the federal government enacted the Community Access to Emergency Devices Act. The law authorized $30 million in grants to states and localities for:

  • The purchase and placement of AEDs in public places.
  • Training first responders in administering life-saving care (including AED usage).

The Food and Drug Administration has issued AED regulations, including:

  • Mandatory pre-market approval for new and existing AEDs in 2015.
  • Necessary accessories to cover unit function problems reported in 2020.


Since 2001, all 50 states have enacted statutes or adopted laws and regulations like the federal Cardiac Survival Act of 2000.

But many state laws on AED placement and usage address issues that the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act fails to address.

Every state has a Good Samaritan Protection Act, and all but nine states protect untrained rescuers from civil action in most circumstances.

Many states have:

  • Considered ways to encourage greater AED availability and mandate training on the use of AEDs.
  • Established regulations requiring that maintenance and testing meet manufacturers’ standards.
  • Created registries of defibrillator locations.

Though awareness and advocacy are growing, only a handful of states have proposed or adopted legislation requiring AEDs in public buildings and other public facilities.

However, even where AEDs are not required by law, forensic experts are likely to testify that in their judgment, according to the common law, businesses sued for wrongful death related to not having AEDs should have known better.

How McCready Law Can Help

Losing a loved one to sudden cardiac arrest when their death could have been prevented is tragic. If your family believes that this happened, we can help.

McCready Law’s legal team has experience in wrongful death litigation arising from failures to use, provide, or properly maintain AEDs.

These cases can be complex, but our lawyers have the expertise to handle them and win your deserved compensation.

Compensatory payments address:

  • loss of financial support and earning capacity
  • emotional trauma
  • lost familial relationships
  • and more

We have been practicing personal injury law, including wrongful death, in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area since 1999.

Why Us?


  • Our legal team has over 90 years of collective experience.


  • We have won multiple six and seven-figure settlements for our clients.


  • We settle cases when that route is open and is the best option. But we are just as willing to go to trial and have the track record to prove it (70 cases tried to verdict).
  • We handle cases of all sizes.

How Our Lawyers Litigate Wrongful Death Cases

McCready Law represents clients in wrongful death cases and works to support counsel on complex claims across the U.S.

The laws concerning wrongful death AED lawsuits are not uniform across jurisdictions. Regardless of the laws, however, the following variable scenario is common:

Premises owners have violated statutory law, or the duty of care owed to a guest by having no AED on their property.
This is applicable particularly when:
  • Managers have stopped employees from using an AED on hand.
  • Managers failed to teach employees how to use them or failed to make them aware of Good Samaritan Laws.
  • An AED malfunctioned because of manufacturing defects or negligence of maintenance.

When there are no clear statute violations, there may be opportunities to argue liability based on negligence, common law duties, and premises liability.

Call for a 100% FREE Consultation

We will go to work for you and strive to get your deserved compensation.

If you would like to learn more about your legal options following a preventable tragedy of this sort, contact our firm today at (773) 779-9885.