Volunteers and Florida Workers’ Compensation Coverage

There are many volunteer opportunities that are very physical in nature. From building houses to delivering meals, people often give their time and physical efforts towards noble causes. As with any activity, volunteering can subject a person to injury. Florida workers’ compensation coverage is is generally available to employees. The Florida Workers Compensation Act has specifically excepted volunteers from the definition of employee, with certain exceptions. The most common exception is when an individual is volunteering for a government entity. Therefore, when an individual is volunteering for a state, county, city, or other government entity, he or she will be eligible for Florida workers’ compensation coverage as an “employee”.

Even if a person is volunteering for a government entity and is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, he or she may not be eligible for any indemnity benefits. Workers’ compensation cases generally have two distinct sides: medical benefits and money benefits when an injury causes wage loss. A volunteer that is eligible as an employee will be entitled to medical benefits, but he/she will not eligible for wage loss benefits from the volunteer work pursuant to the holding in Osceola Co. School Bd. v. Boos, 913 So.2d 667 (Fla 1st DCA 2007). The 1st DCA holding in Boos suggests that wages from qualifying concurrent employment may serve to establish an average weekly wage, which may create entitlement to indemnity benefits. However, the issue of indemnity entitlement following a qualifying volunteer workers’ compensation injury will be extremely fact-specific. Therefore, if this issue arises, I would recommend the individual speak with a Tampa workers’ compensation attorney about the particular facts of his or her case.  If you have questions regarding Volunteers and Florida Workers’ Compensation Coverage, contact our office for a free consultation.   

440.02(15)(d) “Employee” does not include:

6. A volunteer, except a volunteer worker for the state or a county, municipality, or other governmental entity. A person who does not receive monetary remuneration for services is presumed to be a volunteer unless there is substantial evidence that a valuable consideration was intended by both employer and employee. For purposes of this chapter, the term “volunteer” includes, but is not limited to:

a. Persons who serve in private nonprofit agencies and who receive no compensation other than expenses in an amount less than or equivalent to the standard mileage and per diem expenses provided to salaried employees in the same agency or, if such agency does not have salaried employees who receive mileage and per diem, then such volunteers who receive no compensation other than expenses in an amount less than or equivalent to the customary mileage and per diem paid to salaried workers in the community as determined by the department; and

b. Volunteers participating in federal programs established under Pub. L. No. 93-113.