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Rep.Farrar, Jessica

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House Committee hears measure protecting volunteer social workers  print page

by: Rep. Farrar, Jessica

AUSTIN, TX-- Thursday the Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence heard HB 823, which would limit the civil liability of volunteer social workers. Promoted by the National Association of Social Workers, the legislation prevents certain lawsuits against social workers who perform volunteer services.

In 1987, the Texas Legislature first gave approval to the Charitable Immunity and Liability Act, which protected doctors and nurses from malpractice claims while these professionals were engaged in volunteer work in a disaster area. Farrar's legislation, House Bill 823, simply adds current and retired licensed social workers to the list of professionals who gain immunity under the Act. Social workers are often valuable contributors to disaster relief efforts, helping disaster victims to locate and access government services according to the individual's needs.

Conduct protected under the bill would include actions undertaken in the course of the social worker's professional duties. Willful or malicious acts that cause harm to clients are not protected.

"Passage of this bill would encourage more professionals to volunteer in circumstances where their services are most needed," Farrar said.

The committee took no formal action on the bill, leaving the matter as pending business at the conclusion of the hearing.

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