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Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation If I’m Injured While Volunteering?

volunteer

The holidays are a time of generosity. Not only do friends and family exchange gifts, but many also choose to donate their time or resources to support charities. Some people volunteer alone, while others may choose to volunteer with family members or coworkers. Some people look for a charitable event, while others look for a more regular volunteer position. In Evansville alone, there are hundreds of volunteer positions to choose from.

This season of giving is wonderful, and no one should feel discouraged from going out and making a difference. But unfortunately, a small number of volunteers suffer injuries every year. That puts volunteers in an often uncomfortable position: Few people want to ask the charity they were supporting to cover their own medical bills. If you’re injured while volunteering, can you receive coverage through the company’s workers’ compensation?

Volunteers and Workers’ Compensation

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Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that nonprofits’ workers’ compensation covers volunteers. That’s because workers’ compensation typically only covers paid employees. But there are some instances in which a volunteer may have access to workers’ compensation.

Government Volunteers

According to the Indiana Code, “rostered volunteers” may be covered by medical treatment provisions of workers’ compensation. A “rostered volunteer” is an individual “whose name has been entered on a roster of volunteers for a volunteer program operated by a unit [e.g., a county, municipality, or township]” and “who has been approved by the proper authorities of the unit.” This excludes volunteer firefighters or inmates in correctional facilities.

Essentially, this means that if you are volunteering for a government entity, you may be covered under workers’ compensation. One word is important there: “may.” Make sure you double-check with the government body you’re volunteering for to determine their policy regarding injuries at work.

“In the Course of Employment”

Even if you’re not a government volunteer, you may still have access to workers’ compensation. Take, for example, the case of John Morris right here in Evansville. Morris, a licensed building contractor in Vanderburgh County, fell from the roof while constructing a shed for Olivet Presbyterian Church in Evansville and fractured his leg. He was constructing the shed, not as part of a business relationship, but as a volunteer project with the Boy Scouts, in which his son participates.

Although Morris was volunteering at the time, he was doing the same work he does as a contractor. The project wouldn’t have been completed without Morris’ “skills, tools, materials, and contractor’s license.” He was able to argue that, because he receives “a substantial amount of business and goodwill” from doing volunteer projects, his injuries arose “out of and in the course of his employment.”

Practicum Students and Interns

In most cases, interns and practicum students are covered under workers’ compensation. Interns can even take steps to prove that they’re interns and not just volunteers. However, if you’re an unpaid intern at a nonprofit, you may struggle to prove you’re not a volunteer.

Premises Liability, Not Workers’ Compensation

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Although certain volunteers may have access to workers’ compensation, it’s likely that most don’t. So how do volunteers get compensated for their injuries?

Instead of being handled like a workers’ compensation claim, volunteer injuries are typically handled like premises liability claims. Like any other business, the nonprofit for which you volunteer likely has liability insurance to protect them in case a guest gets injured on their property.

Even if you’re a regular volunteer, you could still pursue a premises liability claim the same way a one-time visitor might if they slipped and fell on the nonprofit’s property, for example.

Help from an Evansville Personal Injury Attorney

When volunteering this holiday season, getting injured should be the last thing on your mind. But in case the unexpected happens, Hensley Legal Group is here to help. Whether you’ll need to file a workers’ compensation claim or premises liability claim, our Evansville personal injury attorneys are ready to assist. Give us a call today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.