The board is considering creating a “caring committee” who would consists of volunteers willing to drive a resident to the doctor or grocery store, dog sitting, etc. Is there any liabilities for the association?
My recommendation would be to review this issue with the association’s insurance agent to confirm that coverage would be available to defend and indemnify the association and the committee member in the event any claim of negligence ever arises out of the services being rendered by this committee. Generally, committee members are covered under most association insurance policies, however, in this particular instance, as stated above, it would behoove the association to confirm in writing with the association’s insurance agent that in the event of a claim being filed that the committee members engaging in this particular committee service and the association will be afforded a defense and indemnity under the existing insurance policies in place.
Patrick F. O’Dea, Esq.
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP
3751 Robert Grissom Parkway, Suite 300
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577-6412
Phone: (843) 946-5631
Unfortunately, when it comes to performing work for the benefit of owners, no good deed goes unpunished. The actions of a committee organized under the imprimatur of the Association could expose the Association to liability in the event of an accident or injury. You should consult with your insurance broker (or insurer) to determine the criteria for and scope of coverage, duty of care or training that is imposed, and impact on premiums (if any). You may reluctantly decide not to organize the committee yourselves, but instead to encourage others to organize the committee.
Associations face a similar dilemma when deciding whether to use maintenance staff to install the brackets for exterior air conditioners, for example, or to perform work for individual owners. On one hand, it is likely cheaper and more convenient to have maintenance perform the work. On the other hand, if the installation fails and damage or injury results, the Association is likely to be named in a claim. For that reason many Association furnish a list of recommended contractors rather than using its own staff for owner work.
Smith, Buss & Jacobs LLP
733 Yonkers Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10704
60 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10165
Unless the Association is going to obtain insurance coverage for this activity (including vehicle and general liability), I would suggest this NOT be an Association-sponsored activity, but rather something for which the Association can act as a clearing-house (i.e., those needing rides and those willing to offer rides can connect on the Association’s website or by some other means). If the Association is the provider (by committee), then it also becomes liable for claims of harassment or discrimination in case someone doesn’t get a ride or the driver’s behavior is less than courteous or something else.
Sara A. Austin
Austin Law Firm LLC
226 E. Market St.
York, PA 17403