The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

Miscellaneous Laws (Useful Cites for Higher Education)

Federal Volunteer Protection Act

42 U.S.C. §§ 14,501-14,505

This law partially immunizes individual volunteer workers for non-profit organizations and governmental entities from liability for acts of negligence in the course of their volunteer work.

Certain exceptions exist. The law does not affect the liability of the non-profit organization or governmental unit vis-a-vis the party making a claim, and the organization may still be found to be vicariously liable for the ordinary negligence of its volunteers.

Volunteer is defined as an individual performing services for a non-profit organization or governmental entity without compensation in excess of $500 per year (other than reimbursement for expenses). Immunity is for ordinary negligence and does not cover willful or criminal conduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or conscious flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual. The Act does not offer liability protection when damage results from operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft. 

In general, with a few listed exceptions, this federal law will preempt state law unless state law provides more protection to the volunteers than federal law.




Volunteer Protection Laws Fact Sheet*


updated 1-5-18 mlo