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Help Communities Respond to Disasters



AIA Position

The American Institute of Architects supports legislation that helps the design and construction industry provide assistance and support to communities on a volunteer basis following a natural or man-made disaster.


In a time of declared emergency or disaster, architects provide numerous services to improve the safety and welfare of the public; these include assessing building conditions that could threaten life and property, providing expertise in designing and building temporary and transitional housing for people who have lost their homes, and assisting communities in planning recovery and rebuilding efforts. Architects played vital roles in the response to the September 11th emergencies, as well as after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

However, during post-disaster situations a licensed architect may be exposed to questions of liability even though he or she is acting in good faith to preserve the safety of a community. While most states have statutes that cover certain volunteers from liability during an emergency situation, it is questionable if these statutes would shield an architect from liability if he or she is called upon to render professional services in a time of crisis. This ambiguity needs to be removed by passing federal Good Samaritan legislation.

In jurisdictions where there is no Good Samaritan statute, architects face significant insurance premiums if they decide to undertake voluntary efforts in their communities in such emergencies. This actually provides a disincentive for architects to volunteer their services in times of crisis. Federal Good Samaritan legislation would address this issue and ensure that our nation is better prepared to respond to emergencies and disasters.

A number of states have recognized the importance of giving licensed architects immunity during an emergency or disaster. For the public good it is important that the federal government follow suit and enact a Good Samaritan law for architects that will protect them from liability and thus ensures that their services will be available in future times of need.


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