As a volunteer, you may not realize your worth. It’s estimated that volunteers contribute over $167 billion to the economy. If our nonprofits had to hire people to do the tasks that volunteers do, they couldn’t operate. You are a considerable asset to the organizations you give your time to. What happens if you are injured as a volunteer?
Volunteers Aren’t Employees
In most cases, volunteers won’t be covered under workers’ compensation insurance. There are some cases in which volunteers may be treated as employees, such as volunteer firemen or trial jurors, but as a rule, volunteers are not considered employees. Keep in mind that each state will have its own regulations as to how volunteers are covered under insurance.
Who Pays Your Medical Bills?
If you have private health insurance, your personal insurance is likely your best bet to pay for your medical bills. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may want to rely on your own auto insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover your medical bills.
If you are without medical or auto insurance doesn’t apply, then you may consider a claim against the organization where you were volunteering. Volunteer injuries will typically be covered under general liability insurance policies, but it can depend on the situation and circumstances of the injury.
It also depends on the type of insurance coverage the organization carries. Some nonprofits do address the risk for volunteers and may extend their workers’ compensation insurance to volunteers. Of course, the organization will pay extra for this coverage. It could be cost-prohibitive. If you currently volunteer for an organization, you may want to discuss the risks of being injured while volunteering and what provisions the organization offers.
Should You File a Lawsuit?
As a volunteer, you probably know how most nonprofits operate. Many have a bare-bones budget that doesn’t allow for lawsuits. That doesn’t mean that the organization isn’t responsible for your medical bills. The general liability policy may determine that you were at fault for your injury, which could leave you without compensation.
Volunteers often sign agreements in which they give up their right to sue the organization for accidents “on the job.” Your situation will be determined by many factors. If you were seriously injured, you may need to discuss your situation with a workers’ compensation lawyer who can tell you your rights based on laws in your state.