Protecting myself in contract with Volunteer work

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Protecting myself in contract with Volunteer work


I am starting a closet organization business. However, I’ve been doing and will
continue to do a few volunteer services to help build my skills/portfolio before
registering my business with the state. How can I protect myself in contract as
a volunteer from any possible damages made to a renovation I perform under
volunteer work? Is that possible to do?

Asked on December 28, 2016 under Business Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can have the recipients of your efforts sign an agreement agreeing to waive any claims that may arise out of the work you do and further agreeing to not sue you. Note, however, that while you can protect yourself this way from any claims due to ordinary negligence, or carelessness, the law generally does not you protect yourself from claims arising out of "recklessness"--extraordinary carelessness. So, for example, say you install a closet organizing system and don't nail it in properly, so it pulls out of the wall or falls down--you can generally protect yourself from the consequences of that. But if you drive a nail into a pipe and rupture it, causing water damage, because you did not check for pipes, etc., that could possibly be seen as reckless (and contractor, etc. should know to do this as a matter of course) and they might be able to sue you...and if you, as a non-electrician, attempted to reroute an electrical line in your way, that would definitely be reckless and you could be sued if damage resulted.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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