We are very fortunate in Georgia to have a suite of laws that help to protect volunteers from certain liabilities in the performance of their duties. The following information is presented as a reference only and should not be perceived as nor does it constitute legal advice. It does, however, outline some of the laws protecting volunteers in our state. It is important to note that these laws do not provide complete immunity from responsibility. Namely, if damage or injury was caused by willful or wanton misconduct or gross negligence, these laws offer no protection.
In the unfortunate event that something goes wrong at a chapter sponsored function or if someone feels wronged in some way by chapter activities, a civil lawsuit can be brought against the chapter, its officers or its volunteers. It is important to realize that the liability laws in place protecting volunteers do not eliminate the possibility of being sued. In most cases, a lawsuit will be filed against any and all possible parties involved. The laws protecting volunteers would come into play during such a lawsuit but do not prevent the suit from being filed.
A charitable institution is not liable for the negligence of its officers, unless the institution fails to exercise ordinary care in the selection or retention of competent officers and employees. In addition, directors and officers of non profits enjoy limited liability protection in their roles.
Individual Volunteer Immunity
Individual volunteers performing community service work are not liable for acts performed while participating in a community service program. Most chapter functions would seem to fall within this category and would thereby grant volunteers limited protection from liability for acts or omissions that result in damage or injury.
Statewide Friends maintains liability insurance to cover chapter activities. Most, regular activites are covered and the insurance provides liability coverage for chapter officers and volunteers. As with other liability protections, insurance does not protect against liability in the cases of gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.