Volunteer Protection Act awaits hearing dates in Congress
Legislation protecting individual volunteers from liability lawsuits is awaiting a hearing date from the Senate and House judiciary committees.
The bills, H.R. 911 and S. 929, would shield only those volunteers acting in good faith; it wouldn’t protect those causing damage or injury by misconduct. Organizations could still be sued.
The legislation would reduce by one percent the social service block grants of states that don’t enact protective legislation by fiscal year 1989. Those federal monies would be distributed among states that have the legislation.
“People are saying that [volunteering is] not worth their time and effort to put personal and family assets to risk,” says Gordon P. MacDougall, executive director of the National Coalition for Volunteer Protection. The NCVP was formed recently to lobby for the legal protection of volunteers of all types.
Members of the Burke (Va.) Volunteer Fire Department and an IAFC representative joined the NCVP at an October rally pushing for a hearing date for the bills.
The legislation is opposed by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, which argues that the problem rests with high liability insurance rates and canceled policies.