Ask a Nonprofit Lawyer if a Nonprofit Can Protect Its Volunteers From Liability?

  1. Church & Nonprofit
  2. Ask a Nonprofit Lawyer if a Nonprofit Can Protect Its Volunteers From Liability?
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Church & Nonprofit

Your nonprofit lawyer may refer you to A.R.S. § 12-982, which sets forth Arizona’s Volunteer Protection Statute, when it comes to issues concerning volunteer liability. Under this law, individuals who volunteer their services to nonprofit organizations, hospitals, or government agencies, have immunity from civil liability under specific circumstances. This immunity covers liability from action or inaction that results in some type of injury, whether financial or physical. If you have questions regarding how to protect your nonprofit organization’s volunteers, a nonprofit lawyer at Provident Law is ready to assist you.

Coverage Under the Volunteer Protection Statute

For volunteers to receive protection under this law, they must meet the following conditions:

  • The volunteers must have been acting within the scope of their roles as volunteers for the nonprofit
  • The volunteers must have been acting in good faith when they either acted or failed to act in a way that resulted in injuries
  • The volunteers must have acted according to their understanding of what their official roles required

A volunteer is any individual who provides services to covered entities without compensation other than reimbursement of actual expenses that they have incurred. As a result, this statute covers unpaid directors or officers, but not officers who receive payment for serving.

Volunteer Protection Statute and the Nonprofit’s Liability

Nonprofits also should be aware that while the Volunteer Protection Statute may protect the volunteer from liability, it does not protect the nonprofit. If volunteers can show that they were acting in good faith and within the scope of what they understood to be their volunteer roles, the nonprofit may face liability for the injury that occurred. This liability stems from the legal concept of vicarious liability, which simply means that an employer assumes liability for the negligence of its agents, including employees and eligible volunteers. To gain a better understanding of these issues, contact a nonprofit lawyer to discuss your specific concerns.

Exceptions to Immunity Under the Volunteer Protection Statute

The Volunteer Protection Statute will not protect volunteers at a nonprofit if they cause harm to others while engaging in willful, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct. These types of actions generally do not qualify as actions taken in good faith, which is one of the required elements of the Volunteer Protection Statute.

Furthermore, the Volunteer Protection Statute does not apply if the volunteers caused the harm by operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft for which the state requires an operator’s license and insurance.

Contact a Nonprofit Lawyer Today for Assistance with Your Legal Matter

The attorneys of Provident Law have over 250 years of combined legal experience. Our goal is to build a relationship with you and all our clients as we work with you through your most complex legal problems. If you have questions regarding protecting volunteers from liability, call us today at (480) 388-3343, or click here to contact us online, and see what we can do for you.

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