The revised Statutes of Missouri, and their annotated format with summaries of all applicable cases and history, take up approximately 18 linear feet of library shelves. The unannotated Statutes are over 7,500 fine print pages comprised of five Volumes plus Supplements. Contained within these revised statutes in Missouri, are the Constitution of the State and the Statutes enacted by the Missouri Legislature and signed by the Governor, since 1821 and still in effect, covering all aspects of our life from the Criminal Code, Sales and Income Taxes, Uniform Commercial Code, corporate laws, procedures for civil lawsuits, and too many other topics to count. The purpose
of this column is just to pick out one small statute and bring it to the reader’s attention, in the hopes that they can use it to their benefit at some point in their business and personal life.
This Newsletter’s column deals with Section 537.118 RSMo. entitled Volunteers, Limited Personal Liability. Have you ever been asked to serve on a Board of Directors of a Not-for-Profit Corporation? Or do you help your church Sunday school by offering to drive the junior high class to a hayride event. Then an accident happens, no one intended it, and the lawsuits start flying. Thankfully under the provisions of Missouri law, if you are a volunteer, defined as “… an individual performing services for a notfor-profit organization or governmental entity who is not compensated for his services or salary or prorated equivalent basis”. Notfor-Profit organizations are organizations which operate under the standards of Section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code and that would be such things as churches, Boy Scouts, and other equivalent type not-for-profit organizations. The statute specifically provides that:
“Any volunteer of a not for profit organization or governmental entity shall be immune for personal liability for any admission resulting in damage or injury to any person intended to receive benefit from such volunteer service if:
1. The volunteer acted in good faith and within the scope of his official function and duties; and
2. … the damage or injury was not caused by the intentional or malicious conduct or by the negligence of such volunteer.”
Therefore be careful when you volunteer, you are protected up to a point, but not if you personally are negligent or act in an intentional manner. Make sure that you have personal liability insurance including an umbrella liability policy and any organization that you are volunteering services for, has good liability insurance in place. Finally, if you are going to volunteer, then don’t even accept token compensation.