It is common for associations to create community engagement events where they seek volunteers to participate in bettering the community – especially at this time of the year when associations have spring cleaning on their mind! Such “boots on the ground” projects in which associations may look for volunteers include painting curbs red, community clean-up, or planting of new flowers in the common area. Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C. is often contacted by associations as they are organizing these projects – boards ask our law firm to create a “waiver” or a “form” – for volunteers to sign – in an attempt to reduce or limit the association’s liability should a volunteer become injured at their event.
Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C. can prepare a waiver on behalf of the Association to be signed by participating volunteers. However, it’s our firm’s position that a waiver (no matter how detailed and thorough it may be) may not adequately protect the Association should a volunteer get injured while volunteering.
A waiver signed by a volunteer may act as a deterrent for the filing of a lawsuit against the association. In other words, if a volunteer becomes injured while volunteering, the injured volunteer may think twice before filing a lawsuit against the association – because they signed a waiver. But, ultimately, in our experience a waiver is most likely not going to protect the association if/when a lawsuit is filed by a volunteer against the association.
Truthfully, our law firm shies away from encouraging associations from hosting volunteer events that propose any potential risk of injury. As good as the idea may sound – free help and a fun community event – the risk of a volunteer injuring themselves opens the association up to a lawsuit that may be costly.
Our advice – limit the liability to the association and hire licensed and bonded professionals to handle projects (such as “boots on the ground” events) within the association. The association may be trying to save a little money by creating a volunteer project, but in the end – the volunteer project could end up costing a lot more money for the association.
Please contact Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C. with questions.