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Federal Volunteer Protection Act — Overview

The Federal Volunteer Protection Act

The Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) is a federal law that was designed to promote volunteerism by granting civil immunity to volunteers under certain circumstances. The VPA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1997.


The VPA provides that a volunteer may not be held liable by a civil court for harm the volunteer has caused to a person while performing services for a nonprofit organization or governmental entity. However, the VPA contains many exceptions. For example, a volunteer is not immune from liability if he or she is guilty of willful or criminal misconduct, he or she has committed a hate crime or a sexual offense, or he or she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the act or omission that caused the harm.

The VPA provides immunity only to volunteers. The VPA does not grant immunity to nonprofit organizations or governmental entities.

Punitive and Noneconomic Damages

The VPA limits punitive and noneconomic damage awards against volunteers.

Preemption of State Law

With some exceptions, the VPA preempts state laws to the extent that such laws are inconsistent with the provisions of the VPA.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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