While it may be gratifying to be involved in a network, it is not unusual for both individuals and
organizations to be concerned about liability.
Fear of personal liability has been stated as a deterrent to joining networks, boards of directors, and
advisory boards, even though the
number of individuals and organizations who have actually been sued for their role in a network is quite
small. That said, in the interest of prevention, it may be beneficial to identify potential legal
problems and solutions of how to address them before they happen.
A risk management plan can be developed
by network members to proactively identify potential risks and create a system for monitoring and
controlling them. The risk management plan is an internal, living document that should be revisited
over time, as the scope and breadth of the network may change.
Some networks and coalitions make a disclaimer
of liability publicly available on their website to outline they are neither liable nor responsible
for services and opinions provided by members of the coalition.
While network members in all capacities are expected to understand and abide by network-specific
bylaws and articles of incorporation, each state has unique laws that address liability issues (often
considered tort laws) as well. Legislation changes
over time, so it is important to research the most up-to-date state-specific statutes. These can be
found through Congress.gov, or the
Library of Congress.
Resources to Learn More
to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers
This step-by-step guide was developed to help lay people find legal rules to resolve or prevent a conflict. It
includes resources and tips.
Author(s): Warthen, L. & Nesbit, A.
Organization(s): American Association of Law Libraries
Understanding the Unique Liabilities of Serving as a
Director or Officer of a Nonprofit
This document, written by a lawyer who specializes in the area of directors' and officers' liability,
outlines potential legal risks that could be encountered by nonprofit directors and officers, as well
as some suggestions on how to minimize those risks.
Author(s): Costello, B.
Organization(s): American Bar Association