Whether it’s in a school, with a charity, or any other community organizations, volunteering can be an extremely fulfilling way to give back. Even when intentions are good, accidents can happen, though. Most organizations have clear rules and policies designed to keep all volunteers safe while they’re giving back. When those rules and policies fail, however, volunteers can be left with injuries and expenses. If you’ve been injured volunteering or are about to volunteer and want to be proactive, there are a few things you should know.
Volunteer Work and Risks
Volunteer work encompasses any services or work provided for a charity or similar organization for free. You may get reimbursed for costs of travel or get a free lunch, but as long as there’s not an actual paycheck, it’s considered volunteer work. Volunteer work can encompass such a large number of possibilities that the potential injury types are endless. Common scenarios include:
- Falling off a ladder while painting
- Being bitten while volunteering with animals
- Being injured while using heavy equipment
The possibilities are diverse. Rather than trying to predict what injuries you could face volunteering, it’s best to know what steps to take should it happen.
If injured while volunteering, immediately seek medical care — don’t waste time trying to sort out who is responsible. Typically your health insurance should cover immediate needs. Next, secure a workers’ compensation attorney, like a workers’ compensation attorney in New Jersey. Even if the organization you volunteered for is willing to cover your expenses through their own insurance, it’s often best to let an attorney handle those conversations as they know more about your rights and what you may be owed.
Should I Pursue Damages?
Few people would hesitate to pursue damages if they were injured during a paying job, but when injuries happen while volunteering, many of us hesitate to do anything about it. Being injured on a volunteer job is no different from any other injury. Bills for ambulance rides, hospital stays, and even physical therapy can get pile up quickly, and you will be responsible for them all. Fortunately, most volunteer organizations have insurance and processes for accidents, but you have to know how to access them.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to feel fulfilled while helping those in need. Unfortunately, though, accidents can and will happen, even during such an enjoyable activity. If you or a loved one has been injured volunteering, be sure to get what you are owed. Consult a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to protect your interests.
Thanks to Rispoli & Borneo, P.C., for their insight into what happens if you are injured while volunteering.