I Was Injured as a Volunteer Worker, What are My Options?

Volunteers are the lifeblood of this country. They give their own time to help others at local churches, hospitals, and various shelters. They are not compensated for their time and some volunteers will work part to full-time hours without pay. While they may be required to show up for their volunteer shift at a specific time or even volunteer so many hours per week, generally speaking, volunteers are not covered under workers’ compensation insurance benefits.

In order for someone to receive workers’ compensation, they must be an established employee with that company. They must be receiving a form of payment from the employer in return for their time and services – something volunteers are not doing.

Agreements for Compensation

There are instances where a volunteer could be considered coverable under workers’ compensation insurance, but these instances are rare. If that volunteer has a written agreement regarding non-monetary compensation for their volunteer time, they may be considered an employee. For example, a volunteer worker at a soup kitchen is compensated with free lunch and dinner as part of their shift, and there is a volunteering agreement to that effect. In this case, workers’ compensation may cover this individual if they are injured while volunteering.

Determining if a Worker is a Volunteer or Employee

Not all compensation is considered true compensation – such as free parking or discounts at a cafeteria. There are some factors that may help tip the balance between volunteer and employee, including:

  • The worker is motivated by humanitarian, civic, or charitable motives.
  • The services performed are typically associated with volunteer services.
  • The services do not require set hours, nor does the worker perform the same tasks as other paid employees on the premises.
  • The nonprofit does not exercise immense control over the volunteer while they are performing services.
  • The volunteer typically arranges their own schedule in accordance with regular volunteer hours and can work at their convenience.

What if a Non-Profit Offers to Pay for Injuries?

If you are injured as a volunteer and the non-profit organization offers to pay for your injuries, this is merely a kind gesture and they are not obligated to pay for all monetary losses. Even if they start paying, they are allowed to cancel their payments at any time without being held responsible by the court.

Assessing the Cause of Your Injury

While you may not qualify for workers’ compensation, if your injury was due to the non-profit’s negligence or the negligence of one of their employees, you may qualify for a personal injury lawsuit. It is best to speak with a New York personal injury attorney regarding your injury and potential claim. The attorneys at Schwartzapfel® Lawyers, P.C. can help. Schedule a free consultation today at 1-877-737-4806 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.

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