Volunteers for charities and other nonprofit entities have an additional line of defense against the threat of personal liability now that Congress has finally passed a federal Volunteer Protection Act. Acting in the euphoria for citizen service following the Presidents’ Volunteer Summit in Philadelphia in April 1997, Congress passed with fanfare a bill that had been languishing in both House and Senate, in various forms, for a decade.
The law (42 USCA Sec. 14501 et seq.) generally provides that volunteers will not be personally liable for their acts or omissions if they are acting within the scope of their responsibility for the organization and the harm is “not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed.”