Editor’s note: This guest blog is by Edward S. Robson, Esq.
In the past I have written about the tort liability that digital volunteers face when making responses. In addition to a number of other strategies, one method for reducing liability is to obtain indemnification from the governmental agency or NGO requesting the services of the digital volunteers.
First, a few words about indemnification: This means to require a requestor to pay any expenses or awards associated with the claims brought against digital volunteers as a result of their work for the requesting party. If a member of a digital volunteer group negligently released information causing a disaster victim to be injured, the requesting agency would be contractually required to pay attorney’s fees incurred in defense, or any awards. An indemnification agreement would not necessarily cover all conduct of digital volunteers, including acts of gross negligence or recklessness.
To obtain indemnification, groups need an agreement with the party requesting service. The agreement need not be actively negotiated but could be contained in an online activation request. The acceptance of terms and conditions, including acceptance of indemnification, would be a prerequisite for submission of an activation request.
Many groups are developing activation protocols or criteria for determining which calls for assistance they will answer. The willingness of a requestor to indemnify a group and its members seems a logical criterion for separating the sometimes overwhelming requests for help. It could provide a layer of confidence for digital volunteers and encourage action. Read the rest of this entry »