Recovering Compensation If You Were Injured While Volunteering

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volunteering in California

If you’ve been injured while volunteering, you may feel conflicted about what to do. 

Volunteerism is rooted in taking action to serve the community, and as a result, many volunteers struggle with the ethical dilemma of seeking compensation for their injuries. They may feel it’s wrong to sue a charity, or they may worry about how other people will perceive their actions. They may even be concerned about a non-profit’s ability to pay and still keep the doors open.

Although some non-profits operate on a shoestring and lack the resources to respond to an injury victim properly, that’s not generally the case. Regardless of an organization’s size or financial standing, the fact remains the same: Seeking compensation for an injury sustained while volunteering is a responsible action. 

When you seek compensation from a volunteer organization, our Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer adds, you not only ensure your own recovery, but you also alert the organization to potential hazardous flaws in its design. As a result, a lawsuit can help protect other volunteers from suffering the same fate in the future. Keep reading to learn more. 

If you’ve been injured on the job while volunteering, you deserve to know your rights. Let’s explore how you may qualify to recover for compensation. Contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation today.

How Do Volunteer Organizations Handle Worker Injuries?

Simply put: It depends on the organization in question.

Organizations have the choice by law to declare that volunteers are termed employees while providing services, meaning injury victims may be covered under workers comp. They can also opt to provide insurance policies to protect workers against injury while volunteering.

If you’re an avid volunteer, you may have noticed that some organizations require you to sign a mandatory waiver before volunteering. This is a warning sign that the organization may not cover volunteers under worker’s comp or volunteer insurance, and in the event of an accident, you may struggle to get the financial assistance you need to recover.

In contrast, some organizations focus on professional ethics for volunteer management. They make an effort to cover volunteers with workers' compensation and insurance policies, which is a good indication that the agency cares about protecting volunteers on the job. 

Workers' Comp for Volunteer Injuries

Workers' comp is short for workers' compensation. It is a type of employer insurance designed to cover the costs associated with an on-the-job injury.

California agencies can choose to offer workers' compensation to volunteers, but it is not mandatory. You are not covered if your nonprofit does not offer volunteer workers' compensation. However, if the agency provides volunteer insurance coverage, you may be entitled to compensation.

Personal Injury Lawsuits for Volunteer Injuries

Although California Workers' Compensation may not cover your injury, other California statutes may apply. Volunteers who are excluded from a worker’s comp claim can seek compensation in civil court, which, according to California law, may award compensation for damages as well as pain and suffering. 

Volunteer injuries can result in both short- and long-term health issues. Depending on the details of your case, you may be facing tremendous medical expenses, lost wages, a loss of quality of life, property damage, disability, and more. Luckily, you may be able to seek damages for all of these losses through a personal injury lawsuit. 

Volunteer Compensation FAQs

Getting compensation for an injury while volunteering is a complex topic. Here are the top frequently asked questions.

• Can I qualify for workers' comp if I volunteered to help in an emergency? 

In California, volunteer firefighters, police volunteers, and emergency workers are covered by workers' compensation because they are considered to be temporary government employees. 

• Can I help my organization protect volunteers?

If you’ve been injured while volunteering, you may be able to help your organization prevent accidents in the future. Start with ensuring that your workplace meets safety standards outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

• What steps should I take if I’ve been injured while volunteering? 

The first thing you should do in any accident is ensure your immediate safety. Get out of harm’s way and seek immediate medical care, even if you don’t initially feel seriously injured. After you’re safe and have been evaluated by a medical professional, your next step should almost certainly be contacting a personal injury lawyer. 

To get ready to talk with a lawyer, organize your paperwork. Review any documentation you have about your volunteer work and check if you signed a liability waiver. Next, gather any evidence you collected from the scene of the accident; this could include photos of you and your surroundings, names, numbers of witnesses, and documentation of your hospital visit. 

Case Barnett Law: Top Injury Lawyers in Orange County

If you’ve been injured while volunteering in California, your life and livelihood have been affected. Your ability to continue volunteering—or working your paid job—may be impacted. You don’t need to add more stress by trying to solve this on your own.

The best thing you can do is gather information and explore your legal options. Talking with an injury attorney can help calm your nerves, improve your understanding of coverage, and help you determine the best course of action. 

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law
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