Community Preparedness Webinar Series: Volunteer Liability
Intro to the Citizen Corps Volunteer Liability Guide
Date and Time: Monday, December 7, 2010
Presenter: Claire Lee Reiss, J.D.
Well-trained volunteers supplement governmental resources in all phases of emergency management. Identifying and supporting policy and practice that promote and strengthen public participation is, therefore, an important element of Citizen Corps’ implementation.
FEMA has learned from Citizen Corps Councils, volunteer program managers, and volunteers that liability is a significant concern and a potential barrier to volunteer involvement in emergency services. Liability—legal responsibility for one’s acts or omissions—includes diverse concerns: legally imposed payment of damages for personal injury or property damage; penalties for practicing a profession or trade without the required license or permit; compensation for lost income and medical expenses of an injured volunteer; and damages for breach of contract.
To offer guidance in this area, FEMA funded the nonprofit Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) to develop the Citizen Corps Volunteer Liability Guide (CCVLG) to provide an overview of liability and to suggest some approaches to addressing these concerns.
Claire Lee Reiss, J.D., ARM, CPCU, is the Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel of the Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI). She is responsible for overseeing PERI’s Education and Training Programs as well as the Grants Program. Claire is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Washington University in St. Louis. She is admitted to the practice of law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Prior to joining PERI, Claire was the head of the Risk Management Division in the City of Alexandria, VA, and Vice President of HFIC Management Company, Inc. Ms. Reiss recently completed a nationwide project to support emergency and disaster volunteer programs that focused on research and development of online tools and good practices in the areas of workers compensation; civil (tort) liability; and licensure, certifications, and permits regarding disaster volunteers.
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