The House of Representatives today passed a "good Samaritan" bill to protect volunteer pilots and charitable organizations such as Angel Flight America from liability suits. AOPA supported the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act (H.R. 1084), which would shield pilots providing no-cost transportation to medical patients or volunteering services during times of emergency. Similar legislation has been pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee since April of last year.
The legislation approved by the House would close a gap in the Volunteer Protection Act. That law protects volunteers and charitable organizations from being sued for ordinary negligence occurring during the course of their volunteer activities. But a fix is needed because the law doesn't cover volunteers operating a motor vehicle or aircraft.
Because they can be sued, these volunteers and the nonprofit organizations sponsoring them have found their insurance rates skyrocketing, if they can get insurance at all.
If the legislation passes the Senate, the reduced threat of lawsuits against charitable flights also helps keep insurance available.
September 14, 2004