Volunteers provide many vital services to communities, and the benefits of volunteering are mutual to both the organization and the individual. As you contribute valuable time and skills to a volunteer organization, you also build experience that shines on your resume. In the midst of all of these benefits, you still unfortunately might get hurt while volunteering. If you are injured while doing volunteer work, what steps should you take?
Treat Injuries and Inform Supervisors
The first step to take in the event of any injury is to seek treatment. If any injury is serious or life-threatening, call 911. If your injuries are not serious, seek whatever help you can find at the scene and plan to follow up with your physician as soon as you can. Inform your supervisor at the volunteer site that you have experienced an injury. You may also need witnesses who can vouch for the experience of your injury, as well as documentation of the incident.
Learn About Volunteer Coverage
It is likely that your employer provides workers’ compensation for injuries or illnesses that occur on the job and that result in your inability to work. However, if you are injured while volunteering, whether or not you will be covered by the organization’s workers’ compensation insurance depends on where you are located. State laws vary on whether workers’ compensation is required for organizations that host volunteers. Some organizations choose to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for volunteers, but they may or may not be required to do so. It is important to talk to the organization that you were volunteering for to see if they offer workers’ compensation coverage.
In some states, public employers—like schools or townships—are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for volunteers in emergency roles who might be injured on the job. For volunteer firefighters or emergency medical technicians, this may be the case. Many public employers also obtain coverage for volunteers who contribute non-emergency services.
If you were injured while volunteering, it is important to seek the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer. Even if you were volunteering your services instead of getting paid, a lawyer can help you determine your eligibility for workers’ compensation. A workers’ compensation lawyer will help you to make sure you have asked the right questions, collected all necessary evidence, and filed all materials that are necessary for your claim.