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Liability, Insurance, and Other Legal Issues

Liability and insurance considerations are important when designing a safe, reliable transportation program. Programs may use paid staff or volunteers. Programs will want to create policies that ensure that all staff are properly trained and have required certifications and/or licenses. Each program will have to determine the type of insurance best suited to their needs. The financial repercussions of accidents or lawsuits can be long-lasting for small transportation programs.

Considerations for employing volunteer staff in a transportation program include:

  • Making sure that all drivers have a valid driver's license
  • Making sure that volunteer drivers are covered under the program's insurance policies
  • Providing adequate and continuous training for all program staff
  • Keeping records of volunteers
  • Creating a process for supervision and oversight of all staff

Different states and transportation agencies may have specific laws in place to protect both riders and program staff/volunteers. For example, in Minnesota, volunteer drivers are protected by different laws depending on whether they volunteer their time with a nonprofit or for-profit transportation program.

In order to provide safe transportation options to riders of all backgrounds, programs should also consider implementing policies and mechanisms that help staff work with children, older adults, and people with limited mobility and other disabilities.

As technology is being increasingly used in transportation programs, new laws will have to be considered when implementing programs. Although not widely used in rural areas, drones can provide access to medical supplies and bring medication to some remote locations. In the future, rural health programs that serve populations living in rugged terrain may be able to consider using this technology. Currently, some federal regulations and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules restrict drone usage and programs will need to be aware of any pertinent rules.

Resources to Learn More

Insurance Challenges for Paratransit
Document
This report details insurance considerations by the type of services being provided (for example, door-to-door services, vehicle sharing, volunteer drivers) in the transportation program. The document further describes insurance pool and volunteer protection laws for every state.
Author(s): Farber, N.
Organization(s): National Conference of State Legislatures
Date: 10/2008

Insurance for Small Urban and Rural Public Transportation Systems in Texas
Document
This white paper outlines common insurance-related barriers and concerns for transportation programs and also describes cost-saving mechanisms through effective risk management. Information about cost-saving strategies for different program types and populations are also included.
Organization(s): Texas Transportation Institute
Date: 5/2007

Insurance Issues in Community Transportation
Document
This resource describes types of liability insurance for community transportation organizations and important considerations before making an insurance purchase.
Author(s): Fisher, T.
Organization(s): Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services' Human Service Transportation Office.
Date: 9/2013