May 10, 2019

Manchin, Cassidy And Bipartisan Group Of Senators Reintroduce Bill To Protect Disaster Relief Volunteers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) reintroduced the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act to provide medical professionals with a limited, but consistent, level of legal protection while volunteering during federally-declared disasters.

“In June 2016, we suffered terrible flooding in West Virginia, not only were homes and properties destroyed but so many West Virginians were injured and in need of medical care. Luckily, medical professionals stepped up out of the goodness of their heart and provided their expertise to help their fellow West Virginians in need. I firmly believe that no doctor or medical professional should have to worry about getting sued when they acted in good faith,” said Senator Manchin. “I am proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill to extend protections to these Good Samaritans in West Virginia and around the country.”

The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 sought to protect those volunteering through non-profit agencies or government entities from litigation over possible economic damages they may cause while volunteering. However, this act fails to protect persons who volunteer independently of a formally recognized organization, or that cross state lines to volunteer. The combination of federal and state efforts to protect and encourage volunteering, specifically by health care professionals, can be unclear and insufficient in the event of a large-scale disaster. This bill only applies to licensed medical providers and will not protect against litigation if the damage was done in a deliberate or criminal manner.