Volunteer Protection Act 1997 -- What It Means To You
1. The purpose of the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is to provide certain protections to volunteers in lawsuits based on the activities of volunteers. No volunteers shall be liable for harm caused by the act or omission of the volunteer if:
A. The volunteer was acting within the scope of their responsibilities;
B. The volunteer was properly licensed, certified, or authorized to undertake the activities in question;
C. The harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the right or safety of the individual(s) harmed; and
D. The harm was not caused by a volunteer operating a vehicle that requires an operator's license or insurance.
2. The VPA prohibits the recovery of punitive damages unless the injured person proves by "clear and convincing evidence" that the volunteer caused the harm by an act constituting willful or criminal misconduct or by conscious, flagrant indifference to the person's safety or rights. This "clear and convincing" standard raises the burden of proof, making it more difficult to recover punitive damages from a volunteer.
3. A volunteer's liability for non-economic damages will be limited to the proportion of harm for which that volunteer is found liable.
4. The VPA limits the liability of volunteers, but not the liability of the organizations that they serve.
5. The limitation on liability for volunteers does not extend to:
A. Crimes of violence or international terrorism for which the volunteer has been convicted by a court;
B. Hate crimes;
C. Sexual offenses;
D. Misconduct that violates State or Federal civil rights laws; or
E. Misconduct while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.