They say that, “No good deed goes unpunished,” but the story is often not so simple. Every day in our state, dozens of volunteer hours are spent enhancing classrooms and practice fields, hours donated by retirees, generous community members, and involved parents. Whether it is a Summerlin father chaperoning an elementary-school field trip or a semi-pro runner from Henderson volunteering her time to train a women’s cross-country team, Las Vegas volunteers make a profound difference in schools and extracurricular programs throughout Southern Nevada. But what happens when something goes wrong, and a person who had been involved by the tenuous ties of volunteerism becomes embroiled in a serious Las Vegas personal injury incident?
Is a volunteer a dutiful functionary in the activity, or simply a person along for the ride? Where is the line that separates the involvement — and pride, and feeling of making a difference — from the lack of formal responsibility? These questions are difficult to answer, especially in the wake of an accident. Often in Nevada volunteer accident cases, the individual quickly points out his or her lack of training, the informal nature of the commitment, and other factors that were not objectionable until a tragedy struck. This is a natural and intuitive reaction, and both parties in a Las Vegas school injury case would do well to seek legal counsel from an experienced Nevada personal injury lawyer.
A recent case from the Midwest helps illustrate these difficult issues. A man volunteering as an adjunct wrestling coach wrestled with one of his high-school trainees during one of his first practices with the high school wrestling team. Seconds later, the student athlete suffered a serious spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down and which drastically altered his plans for college in addition to changing his life forever.
In this particular case, several legal issues were debated. One question was, What is a volunteer? How do factors of direction, authority, and responsibility shape the nature of a volunteer’s position as an agent of the school, team, or organization for which s/he is working? In some states, laws are already on the books that define the liability of volunteer workers. Federal law also provides some protection for volunteer liability unless the helper’s actions were reckless. Cases such as this one turn on arcane issues and depend on the laws in place in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. If you need legal guidance on a Nevada volunteer accident case, contact us today for a free consultation.