Humane Law Forum: Worth the Risk
Volunteers keep many an organization running, but they bring potential liabilities
During 2010, more than 26 percent of Americans volunteered for an organization at least once. And with the economic climate bringing on budget crunches, chances are your organization may rely more and more on the services some of America’s 62.8 million volunteers, who provide more than 8 billion hours of service in the year.
Volunteers are a critical source of support for countless shelters and rescue groups. Being aware of the potential liability issues around volunteers should help organizations develop smart policies about training and safety—and the right kind of volunteer agreements!
This piece will focus on five important questions you should be asking yourself when it comes to reviewing your volunteer program: (1) Can a volunteer be held legally responsible by a third party for negligent actions performed while she is volunteering? (2) Can a shelter be held liable for the negligent actions of a volunteer? (3) Can a volunteer successfully sue a shelter for injuries incurred while volunteering? (4) What effect does a waiver of liability agreement have on these issues? And (5) do the liability rules change when the volunteer in question is a minor?