Friday, March 30, 2012

New Washington state law helps people who help people who are vision-impaired or hearing-impaired

This one's all about helping folks who help other folks.

Very recently signed into new Washington law, a revised state policy limits a potential liability of charitable organizations (such as the Lions, for instance). The liability could possibly rear its head when groups provide previously owned eyeglasses or hearing instruments to people who could really use that helping hand. State Rep. Dean Takko sponsored this measure in this year's regular session. The goal here? It's simply to make sure these organizations can proceed with their good public service of recycling health-assistance devices that offer so many people a better, more rewarding quality of life.
Photo credit: Lonedoe

You see, here’s the thing: Previous Washington law (the "Good Samaritan Act") held that people who render care at an emergency (as long as these people don't expect any compensation for their “Good Samaritan” act) have immunity from liability in any lawsuits that might be considered against them. The law has been strengthened over the years. Specifically, immunity is assured for physicians and other health-care providers volunteering health-care services with nonprofit organizations or with for-profit groups that regularly provide services to uninsured people.

Services must be given without payment or expectation of payment in order for the immunity-protection to apply. These immunity provisions don't protect people from lawsuits brought against them for gross negligence.

Here's a little history lesson, good Blogsters. Back in 1925, Helen Keller delivered a stirring, inspiring keynote address at that year’s Lions International Convention. Among the points Keller hammered home that day, she challenged Lions "to become Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness.” Lions all over the world answered Helen Keller's challenge. In fact, upward of 200,000 pairs of used, good-quality eyeglasses are distributed every year around the nation to folks who are vision-impaired.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.