NEW YORK — Local architects are urging lawmakers to clear their way to do volunteer work in disaster zones.
The “Good Samaritan” bill for architects and engineers was re-introduced into the state’s Assembly this week. It would give liability protection for professionals who volunteer during disasters and emergencies.
The lack of the law meant many architects and engineers were wary of helping the city recover from Sandy because they could face lawsuits stemming from their service, said Timothy Boyland, vice president of the American Institute of Architects New York State chapter.
"You want to be in a position where you're not concerned, you don’t have these liability issues hanging over your head,” he said.
“You want to just respond along with the rest of your community, and do your best and do your part as a volunteer responder.”
Boyland, who works as an architect in Staten Island, said that the AIA received calls from plenty of volunteers in states that have already passed this law and wanted to pitch in on Staten Island. But the professional group didn’t send architects to volunteer because of the potential lawsuits they can face.
The need for the law became apparent in the wake of 9/11, Boyland said, when structural engineers were named in lawsuits for volunteer work they did immediately after the terror attack.
“You’ve just taught engineers, 'If you come and you help and you lend your expertise, it's going to cost you,'” he said. “It’s a terrible lesson.”
A "Good Samaritan" bill has been pending in the state Senate since Feb. 27, and was re-introduced in the Assembly on Monday.