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Are Businesses Legally Required to Have AEDs?

Close up of an AED in a public facility

An automated external defibrillator can help save a life. As such, specific businesses must ensure that they have this piece of equipment on the property. An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a portable medical device that is used to restore heart rhythms to normal. AEDs deliver an electrical shock that is targeted at any part of the heart in order to reset the rhythmic patterns and prevent them from going into fatal arrhythmias. Having an AED may not be a requirement for all businesses, but it's definitely helpful in the event of a serious health crisis.

Many AEDs are automated, meaning that they can be used by untrained bystanders in the event of a cardiac emergency. Because of their ease of use and portability, AEDs have become increasingly common throughout public spaces such as airports, schools, workplaces, and sports venues. By providing immediate access to lifesaving equipment like the AED, businesses can help ensure that more people survive cardiac events and get the treatment they need.

These portable life-saving devices can provide treatment for someone who sustains cardiac arrest or other problems. The two specific AEDs that exist include public access and professional use.

  • Public access AEDs are intended for use by people who have minimal training but can step in to save someone else.
  • Professional use AEDs are typically available for first responders.

While individuals in California are not legally required to carry an AED around with them, certain businesses must provide them according to state law. These are public access AEDs that laypeople can use, but only specific businesses are required to have them on the premises.

Read on to learn more about the businesses in California that must supply an AED.

California Businesses that Must Provide an AED

Having an AED may not be a requirement, but it’s definitely helpful in the event of a serious health crisis. Below, we will provide a list of businesses in the state that are required to provide an AED and ensure that it is Food and Drug Administration approved.


School districts and charter schools that provide students with interscholastic physical education programs must have at least one AED for each school within the district or the charter school and should be available and maintained for use on campus.

Overall, educational buildings housing an occupancy of 200 or more should have an available AED.

Public Pools & Health and Fitness Centers

Particular public swimming pools must supply lifeguard services and an AED during pool operations. Typically, any place where physical exertion is present should have an AED because of the increased risk of cardiac arrest and other hear problems.

Health studios are required to supply, maintain, and train personnel on how to use an AED. A health studio is considered a facility that allows the use of its environment and equipment to people for physical exercise, bodybuilding, reducing, figure development, fitness training, or for a similar purpose, on a membership basis. Hotels and similar facilities are not included.

Commuter Rails

When considered a public entity, each train within a commuter rail system must have an AED as part of its safety equipment.

Business/Building Requirements

Certain buildings that were built or renovated on or after January 1, 2017, must have an AED available for use. There must be policies developed and implemented for the placement, training, and use of AEDs in state-owned or leased facilities. If an Adult Residential Facility for Persons with Special Health Care Needs uses an AED, it must be reported to the State Department of Developmental Services within 24 hours.

It's vital to recognize occupancy requirements regarding AED access. Here’s how occupancy breaks down:

  • Any assembly building with an occupancy of 300 or more must have access to an AED.
  • Any business building, institutional building, mercantile building, educational building, or residential building with an occupancy of 200 or more must have access to an AED.

Single-family and multifamily units do not count as part of the residential building requirements.

Injured Victims Have Rights

Because California law requires specific businesses to provide access to AEDs, there are some legal issues that can arise. For instance, if a business is required by law to provide an AED and they don’t, they can be held accountable when specific situations. Similarly, when they must provide training for the use of AEDs, and it’s done improperly, the business may be liable for damages.

Anyone using a defibrillator must recognize the potential dangers associated with their use, including the following:

  • Water hazard: We know that water and electricity is a catastrophic combination. If the AED or surrounding area is exposed to water, the AED should not be used. Drying off the pads or the victim should be essential to avoid electrocution.
  • Metal: If metal is present on the victim (such as a bra wire or piercing), it can conduct electricity and cause a significant shock.
  • Lack of instruction: If someone applying the AED does not follow instructions or there are no posted instructions, it can cause harm. Individuals should always follow the prompts on the AED to ensure proper usage.

Some dangers may be unknown to layperson’s who use AEDs, such as the presence of medication patches or pacemakers. However, when the danger is known or should be known, liability may exist. It’s vital for the person who suffers harm or their family to speak with a lawyer about potential legal options to pursue compensation.

A lawyer can help determine where liability may exist and who may be negligent. Was it the business or building owner for not providing an AED when required? Was it the layperson administering the AED for not recognizing reasonably noticeable dangers? In any case, a lawyer can navigate your claim and explain how to move forward with the chance to pursue justice and compensation.

Cases involving AEDs can be complicated. Multiple factors come into play to not only determine liability, but also when determining who is the defendant and how long the plaintiff has to file a case. Our team at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP will work with you throughout the process to help you understand your rights and options.

We understand legal requirements for businesses to provide AEDs and what happens when they don’t. We also recognize improper use when we see it. It’s crucial for those who suffer injuries to have strong legal counsel every step of the way. We have recovered billions of dollars for our clients and we’re ready to help you.

If you have sustained injuries as a result of another’s negligence, you may be owed compensation. Let our team see if we can help you recover it. Our nationally recognized law firm offers free consultations so you can get answers when you need them most.

Call our Los Angeles attorneys at (866) 634-4525 or contact us online to get in touch with someone from our team about the details of your case right away. We will fight to recover your full and fair compensation.