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  1. #1
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Leading Rides and Walks for 50++rs

    My church has a senior's group entitled "XYZ" (has to be the world's most awful senior group name, IMHO).

    Typically, they get in a van and go somewhere, eat and come back! Boorriinngg!

    So, I volunteered to lead the group in alternating weekly bicycle rides and walks.

    We are blessed with multiple walking and bicycling trails.

    So far, I have:

    1. Verified church liability coverage for this sort of activity, and have a letter saying so from the insurance company.

    2. Developed a waiver of liability to protect, namely, myself.

    3. Ordered a bunch of "Colorado Bicycling Manuals" - free from CDOT, 80 pages, covering EVERYTHING.

    4. Required helmets of all riders.

    We will be starting in late March.

    So far, response has been good. Many folks have stated that they, too, did not like riding in vans to places, and, instead would like exercise.

    I plan to start EASY - 1.5 mile walk, then about a 7-8 mile bike ride the next week and go from there.

    Any other suggestions or ideas?
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  2. #2
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    It sounds great, Denver. The 64-years-young senior pastor of the church I attend(www.sdumc.org) leads a 17-mile Half Dome (Yosemite) hike every year. I think he has encouraged alot of people to get into shape through this facet of his ministry.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  3. #3
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    It sounds great, Denver. The 64-years-young senior pastor of the church I attend(www.sdumc.org) leads a 17-mile Half Dome (Yosemite) hike every year. I think he has encouraged alot of people to get into shape through this facet of his ministry.
    Deja vu

    I climbed Half-Dome when I was 7 years old - we were the only folks on the hike that day. We still have a photo of my older sister sitting and dangling her legs over the side. You had to go up by holding cables on each side, and my arms weren't long enough!

    Anyway, thanks for the input.

    Any other thoughts?
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    Sounds good to me, too. I think you're doing the right thing by starting slowly--I'm 60, and I think of myself as being in only fair shape, but I'm often surprised to hear people 10 or 15 years younger marvel that I ride my bike SIX WHOLE MILES to work.
    If this thing takes off and you get a range of participants, you might consider splitting the activities into two groups just so nobody gets bored or discouraged. One of our local clubs does that--they'll have a "no drop" ride, where everybody goes at the pace of the slowest rider, and at the same time a faster group does the same course or sometimes a longer one. I don't ride with them often, but I've done it a couple of times, and it seems to work for everybody.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    I think my club uses the waiver from the League of American Bicyclists for our membership form, and for the back of our ride sheets for visitors.
    http://www.fremontfreewheelers.org/docs/Sign-in.pdf
    Try this link, it should get you a PDF file with our ride sheet on it. The waiver is on page 2. Supposedly, this waiver held up and saved us some grief a few years back.

  7. #7
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    As a qualified tour guide and course deliverer, I can offer some advice:

    1. Do a risk management plan of your proposed courses. It doesn't have to be exhaustive, but you should be able to identify areas that may put at risk people who are under your care. You will need to find remedies. These areas may be crossings over busy highways, or something like an overhanging branch. My premise for any risk management assessment as an organiser always is: "How would I justify my actions here when giving evidence to a Coroner's inquiry?" Recording it on paper is helpful if something disastrous happens later (and more and more, insurers are asking for such things).

    2. Group mentality is such that people follow the leader, and in all likelihood would walk off a cliff of pier before they knew what was happening. Keeping the group together is good for stopping and starting, especially at risk points (refer item 1). Ultimately, you need to stay near the front because often people simply have no idea where they are or where they are going. Street crossings present the biggest problem for groups over five. You may need to arrange several bites at it, or if you can trust the traffic, move into the road and act like a police officer/road worker/crossing guard and stop the cars. Make it clear that shooting redlights on bikes is unacceptable behaviour.

    3. Have a rescue plan. If someone falls ill or hurts themselves, or even you, what do you do with the rest of the group and whom do you contact? Does your cell phone have range on every part of the route? You need to check this beforehand (it only takes one hill to block the signal). You also need to assess the group personalities along the way and think who would panic and would need separate attention, and who would be a good leader or task manager in an acute situation. Or even a non-acute situation -- you may have a participant who is very slow and you need to look after another part of the group; you may need to nominate someone to stick with the slow one, while you look after the rest. But still wait for them to catch up!

    4. If you intend to do verbal interpretation along the way (ie, address the group), don't just stop and start talking. It's the biggest failing of amateur guides. The frontrunners get all the good oil, while the stragglers are brought up short on value for money. Wait until everyone in the group is gathered around you before you start talking. Small talk can keep them occupied until the rear-guard gathers in. Again people want to be led, so you can pretty well arrange them in a semi-circle in front, by asking them to gather closer. Helps save your voice. And you will need to project your voice, which takes a bit of effort, especially if there is ambient noise about. Interrupt your commentary and wait if a loud vehicle goes past, or a jet, or a mower. Or move to another location that it quieter but still has sight of the subject you want to discuss.

    5. In addition, if it is sunny look for stop locations (doesn't matter whether for interpretation or drinking/eating) that are in the shade. You will need to stop more often if it is hot. If you stop the group where there is no shade, ensure *you* are looking into the sun. And remove your sunglasses. There is nothing ruder for some than not being able to see the eyes of the person talking to you. It's a bear removing sunnies AND looking into the sun, so position yourself a little sideways. Incidentally, encourage people on bikes to drink often. And maybe you should have sunscreen on hand (this is an Australian thing, but you also have to watch out for skin allergies to sunscreen, so a really benign one is in order).

    6. You will need to carry some extra gear. Extra water (someone will forget); if it is a walking tour, an umbrella or two, or if there is a large number, big garbage bags with holes cut in the bottom so they can be used as capes; food (even it's just GORP or sweets -- and refer to the next item); a small first aid kit with a resuscitation mouthpiece; a Swiss army knife or similar; and if you are riding, a repair kit plus tubes of various dimensions. Be aware that often people undertake such guided activities for the first time and are incredibly underprepared in terms of clothing, and shoes (if walking) or bike. You may need to carry extra clothing, such as windproof jackets. A backpack or panniers are useful. Be strong on preventing people who have inappropriate equipment such as footwear or poorly maintained bikes from participating. If something happens to them, *you* will get the blame for allowing to participate in the first place.

    7. Your waiver of responsibility, acceptance of risk and indemnity should also request information on any ailments currently suffered by participants and whether they have medication with them. I'm happy to send you a copy of what I use, but you should run whatever past a lawyer friend anyway. The document doesn't absolve you from liability if there is negligence, but can be used as evidence that you put some onus on the participant to recognise the risks involved. However, if they do need medication on the tour, they must administer it themselves -- you should not administer it yourself as the liability issues could become monumental. I am thinking asthmatics and diabetics. For diabetics, having something that combats an insulin attack is handy to carry with you, such as sweets (or whatever food is appropriate).

    8. Have a Plan B and maybe a Plan C. And don't think wet or bad weather will stop people from turning up. Even if it is bucketing down, you still need to turn up and be prepared to set forth on the tour, even with one participant. You may need to consider a shortcut home if something happens on the trail like a fallen tree or track washout. In any case, if the safety scenario has changed from your reconnoitre, stop everyone, work out an on-the-spot plan, and don't encourage risky solutions from the gallery. Turning around and going back is often the only sane solution.

    9. I think as someone has already said, let the slowest person set the pace, although inevitably, some may want to move on ahead (there are frisky oldies as well as young 'uns). Sometimes, you do need to give the more active ones their head, and you should know the trails well enough -- so let them go with the strict instructions to wait at the next trail junction, street crossing or whatever... a place that is simple to identify. You have to do frequent head counts if the group is large. I had a young girl "disappear" on a program last week, and everything came to halt until she was found.

    10. You will have the know-it-alls, the interested, and the timid all together. Get the KIAs to "hold that thought", and try to draw the timid into participating. It's not easy, and is one of the real challenges of guiding.

    It's all pretty well commonsense, but sometimes commonsense is nowhere to be found. Basically, you have to be very attentive, have done a large degree of planning, and display confidence.

    Looks a lot, doesn't it? And it doesn't really delve too deeply. But if you are taking responsibility for a group of people who don't know the area you are leading them into, you have a duty of care that hopefully will see everything work fine, but will protect you to some extent if it ends up in court.

    Good luck and PM me if you have any questions.

    And you though I was just a *****-stirring ugly-face, didn't you...

  8. #8
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Hey, thanks. Lots of good ideas there.

    Our first activity will be a 1.2 mile walk around a lake.

    2nd - a nine mile bike ride - no street crossings, a route I ride daily.

    3rd - 2 mile walk on a route I walk regularly - no street crossings

    4th - 13 mile bike ride - 3 street crossings.

    I will take your ideas and adjust them to fit our situation.

    Really appreciate your time and energy in putting this together.

    And, yes, sun screen and insect repellant are on the list already.

    I like your idea about the medicine and the rescue airway. Was laready planning on 1st aid kit.

    Cell phone has complete coverage throughout our metro area.

    No umbrellas needed around here. Folks don't even know what they are!

    Please send me a copy of your waiver document. Our church has NEVER used anything like that, and they go all over the country in vans including to the South Dakota Indian Reservation to build houses, etc. They only use a waiver for kids under 18, which is interesting as recent court decisions have held that a parent can not sign away the right of a minor to sue in case of injury to that minor!

    We have a procedure for notification of cancellation in event of bad weather.

    Again, thanks for your inordinate effort in putting the list together.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  9. #9
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Good plan, and I think you have your liability bases sufficiently covered. A church group on a good-will outing should be very low liabililty risk anyway.

    Some will be intimidated by the 7-8 mile length especially if any hills are involved, so I encourage you to be more inclusive by allowing some participants the option of a shorter alternative ride, say 2-3 gentle and slow miles. For this group emphasize the pleasure of riding, the exercise can be progressive.
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  10. #10
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wpflem
    Good plan, and I think you have your liability bases sufficiently covered. A church group on a good-will outing should be very low liabililty risk anyway.

    Some will be intimidated by the 7-8 mile length especially if any hills are involved, so I encourage you to be more inclusive by allowing some participants the option of a shorter alternative ride, say 2-3 gentle and slow miles. For this group emphasize the pleasure of riding, the exercise can be progressive.
    First ride is entirely flat, and there are several shelters along the way. I am offering the option of stopping at one of the shelters and awaiting the groups return as it is an out and back trip.

    Many of the folks on the bicycle rides will be relatively experienced, while others will not be, which represents a challenge!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  11. #11
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    If you that worried about liability why not just have a police escort and an ambulance follow the group?
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  12. #12
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wpflem
    If you that worried about liability why not just have a police escort and an ambulance follow the group?
    Having been through and around a lawsuit or three, I am particularly attuned to the need for precautions to prevent injuries. In a lawsuit, everything you do or did not do is microscopically examined (including, by the way, everything I have posted and received on bikeforums.net). Given Rowan's posting, any good attorney would ask in discovery deposition (which can take days of unending and repetitious questioning), "You were advised of these (evidently standard) tour procedures and guidelines. Please advise as to why you didn't [do a risk assessment of the route] or [ask about medications] as suggested by Mr. Rowan." And what would my response be - "I just don't care that much about liability" That would sell well in court!

    An ambulance and police escort would in no way remove liability. In any event, they are within three minutes of any part of the ride by cell phone.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  13. #13
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    As a qualified tour guide and course deliverer, I can offer some advice:

    1. Do a risk management plan of your proposed courses. It doesn't have to be exhaustive, but you should be able to identify areas that may put at risk people who are under your care. You will need to find remedies. These areas may be crossings over busy highways, or something like an overhanging branch. My premise for any risk management assessment as an organiser always is: "How would I justify my actions here when giving evidence to a Coroner's inquiry?" Recording it on paper is helpful if something disastrous happens later (and more and more, insurers are asking for such things).

    2. Group mentality is such that people follow the leader, and in all likelihood would walk off a cliff of pier before they knew what was happening. Keeping the group together is good for stopping and starting, especially at risk points (refer item 1). Ultimately, you need to stay near the front because often people simply have no idea where they are or where they are going. Street crossings present the biggest problem for groups over five. You may need to arrange several bites at it, or if you can trust the traffic, move into the road and act like a police officer/road worker/crossing guard and stop the cars. Make it clear that shooting redlights on bikes is unacceptable behaviour.

    3. Have a rescue plan. If someone falls ill or hurts themselves, or even you, what do you do with the rest of the group and whom do you contact? Does your cell phone have range on every part of the route? You need to check this beforehand (it only takes one hill to block the signal). You also need to assess the group personalities along the way and think who would panic and would need separate attention, and who would be a good leader or task manager in an acute situation. Or even a non-acute situation -- you may have a participant who is very slow and you need to look after another part of the group; you may need to nominate someone to stick with the slow one, while you look after the rest. But still wait for them to catch up!

    4. If you intend to do verbal interpretation along the way (ie, address the group), don't just stop and start talking. It's the biggest failing of amateur guides. The frontrunners get all the good oil, while the stragglers are brought up short on value for money. Wait until everyone in the group is gathered around you before you start talking. Small talk can keep them occupied until the rear-guard gathers in. Again people want to be led, so you can pretty well arrange them in a semi-circle in front, by asking them to gather closer. Helps save your voice. And you will need to project your voice, which takes a bit of effort, especially if there is ambient noise about. Interrupt your commentary and wait if a loud vehicle goes past, or a jet, or a mower. Or move to another location that it quieter but still has sight of the subject you want to discuss.

    5. In addition, if it is sunny look for stop locations (doesn't matter whether for interpretation or drinking/eating) that are in the shade. You will need to stop more often if it is hot. If you stop the group where there is no shade, ensure *you* are looking into the sun. And remove your sunglasses. There is nothing ruder for some than not being able to see the eyes of the person talking to you. It's a bear removing sunnies AND looking into the sun, so position yourself a little sideways. Incidentally, encourage people on bikes to drink often. And maybe you should have sunscreen on hand (this is an Australian thing, but you also have to watch out for skin allergies to sunscreen, so a really benign one is in order).

    6. You will need to carry some extra gear. Extra water (someone will forget); if it is a walking tour, an umbrella or two, or if there is a large number, big garbage bags with holes cut in the bottom so they can be used as capes; food (even it's just GORP or sweets -- and refer to the next item); a small first aid kit with a resuscitation mouthpiece; a Swiss army knife or similar; and if you are riding, a repair kit plus tubes of various dimensions. Be aware that often people undertake such guided activities for the first time and are incredibly underprepared in terms of clothing, and shoes (if walking) or bike. You may need to carry extra clothing, such as windproof jackets. A backpack or panniers are useful. Be strong on preventing people who have inappropriate equipment such as footwear or poorly maintained bikes from participating. If something happens to them, *you* will get the blame for allowing to participate in the first place.

    7. Your waiver of responsibility, acceptance of risk and indemnity should also request information on any ailments currently suffered by participants and whether they have medication with them. I'm happy to send you a copy of what I use, but you should run whatever past a lawyer friend anyway. The document doesn't absolve you from liability if there is negligence, but can be used as evidence that you put some onus on the participant to recognise the risks involved. However, if they do need medication on the tour, they must administer it themselves -- you should not administer it yourself as the liability issues could become monumental. I am thinking asthmatics and diabetics. For diabetics, having something that combats an insulin attack is handy to carry with you, such as sweets (or whatever food is appropriate).

    8. Have a Plan B and maybe a Plan C. And don't think wet or bad weather will stop people from turning up. Even if it is bucketing down, you still need to turn up and be prepared to set forth on the tour, even with one participant. You may need to consider a shortcut home if something happens on the trail like a fallen tree or track washout. In any case, if the safety scenario has changed from your reconnoitre, stop everyone, work out an on-the-spot plan, and don't encourage risky solutions from the gallery. Turning around and going back is often the only sane solution.

    9. I think as someone has already said, let the slowest person set the pace, although inevitably, some may want to move on ahead (there are frisky oldies as well as young 'uns). Sometimes, you do need to give the more active ones their head, and you should know the trails well enough -- so let them go with the strict instructions to wait at the next trail junction, street crossing or whatever... a place that is simple to identify. You have to do frequent head counts if the group is large. I had a young girl "disappear" on a program last week, and everything came to halt until she was found.

    10. You will have the know-it-alls, the interested, and the timid all together. Get the KIAs to "hold that thought", and try to draw the timid into participating. It's not easy, and is one of the real challenges of guiding.

    It's all pretty well commonsense, but sometimes commonsense is nowhere to be found. Basically, you have to be very attentive, have done a large degree of planning, and display confidence.

    Looks a lot, doesn't it? And it doesn't really delve too deeply. But if you are taking responsibility for a group of people who don't know the area you are leading them into, you have a duty of care that hopefully will see everything work fine, but will protect you to some extent if it ends up in court.

    Good luck and PM me if you have any questions.

    And you though I was just a *****-stirring ugly-face, didn't you...




    Sorry, my reply as rewritten below was in repsonse to the quote above.

    "If you are that worried about liability why not just have a police escort and an ambulance follow the group?"

    The precautions given by Rowan may be worthwhile for a paying group of diverse participants, but I think they are overly excessive and inhibitory for a short church group outing.
    Celebrating Bicycling
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    http://www.sfbikes.com or http://www.getafolder.com/

  14. #14
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wpflem
    Sorry, my reply as rewritten below was in repsonse to the quote above.

    "If you are that worried about liability why not just have a police escort and an ambulance follow the group?"

    The precautions given by Rowan may be worthwhile for a paying group of diverse participants, but I think they are overly excessive and inhibitory for a short church group outing.
    Yes, but these are folks in their 60,s, 70's, and in some cases 80's. We all know about those folks!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  15. #15
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Yes, but what a pleasant way "to be called home." It sure would be better than dying in the backseat of the picnic van.

    Also, Rowan did a bunch of good advice. I just worry about excessive liability concerns blocking such good initiatives.
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  16. #16
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Having been through and around a lawsuit or three, I am particularly attuned to the need for precautions to prevent injuries. In a lawsuit, everything you do or did not do is microscopically examined (including, by the way, everything I have posted and received on bikeforums.net). Given Rowan's posting, any good attorney would ask in discovery deposition (which can take days of unending and repetitious questioning), "You were advised of these (evidently standard) tour procedures and guidelines. Please advise as to why you didn't [do a risk assessment of the route] or [ask about medications] as suggested by Mr. Rowan." And what would my response be - "I just don't care that much about liability" That would sell well in court!

    An ambulance and police escort would in no way remove liability. In any event, they are within three minutes of any part of the ride by cell phone.

    You made my point. If you are excessively worried about getting sued by your fellow church members, then the trip may not not be worth it.
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  17. #17
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wpflem
    You made my point. If you are excessively worried about getting sued by your fellow church members, then the trip may not not be worth it.
    No you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Instead, you take reasonable and prudent precautions, get advice, follow that which seems to fit your situation.

    You are right, chances of a lawsuit are extremely low. That in no way removes the requirement for safety precautions, learning about medications, etc.

    In any event, anyone can sue you for just about anything. The fact of having the appropriate liability insurance assures that you have a team of pretty good defense lawyers protecting the insurance company's money.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  18. #18
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    No you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Instead, you take reasonable and prudent precautions, get advice, follow that which seems to fit your situation.

    You are right, chances of a lawsuit are extremely low. That in no way removes the requirement for safety precautions, learning about medications, etc.

    In any event, anyone can sue you for just about anything. The fact of having the appropriate liability insurance assures that you have a team of pretty good defense lawyers protecting the insurance company's money.

    Liability insurance in many cases, as many MD's and office nurses have painfully discovered, promote the filing of lawsuits because it creates "deep pockets" with rewards for attornies. If one's networth is not substantial, he or she may actually be better protected by not having any liability insurance.

    I believe the best approach with the church group is take reasonable and prudent precautions and move ahead with your praiseworhty initiative.

    What you are doing with the church group has much in common with some of my motives for opening a specialized bicycle shop, e.g., to promote bicycling as practical form of transportation and an excellent exercise choice.
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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wpflem
    Liability insurance in many cases, as many MD's and office nurses have painfully discovered, promote the filing of lawsuits because it creates "deep pockets" with rewards for attornies. If one's networth is not substantial, he or she may actually be better protected by not having any liability insurance.
    Nope

    Simply replying to the suit will break your personal bank.

    Here is what happens (from personal experience)

    1. An injury occurs in your business or wherever.

    2. Sometime within the state time limits a lawsuit is filed in court.

    3. You (me) are pesonally served a summons (in my case it came in the middle of an important community meeting in my home in the evening). My mind is a blank for the rest of that evening, of which I was the chairperson.

    4. You don't sleep that night or for many nights after.

    5. By law you are required to respond to that lawsuit within a certain period of time. That document needs to be written by a qualified attorney at $250 per hour.

    6. You additionally are subject to "discovery" - anything you have ever said or written regarding the issue ina ny way - including computer disks and files -everything you have ever published, any discussions you have ever had (except with your attorney) are open game. This took an entire year of my life.

    7. You are subject to depositions - lengthy meetings with attorneys for both sides present exploring in a legally allowable wide range of questions - about things which you probably should have known but likely didn't. Like a whole basketful of rules and regulations that you never read because you relied on another agency to interpret them for you.

    8. Continuous meetings with your attorney(s) to plan strategy, answer more questions, etc - all at $250/hr.

    In my case, having the liability insurance meant that my company had to spend no money defending the lawsuit, it was all provided by the insurance company. Total cost of defense - $55,000.00

    You are foolish if you don't have this protection.

    And, to top it all off, I am still (5 years later) involved in a lawsuit against Colorado Workmen's Compensation because we (my insurance company) and I believe this should have been handled as a Workmen's Compensation case, not as a civil liability case.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 02-18-05 at 08:14 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  20. #20
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Depends on the circumstances. The point I'm making is that you are much more likely to be sued if you have a deep pocket. If you as individual do not have resources the plantiff is likely to have trouble finding representation.

    So it is not always prudent to have liability insurance. I agree once a case is filed and a plantiff has representation, then you may well start getting hit with defensive legal fees.

    Going naked may be the best choice.
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    We have been through the liability and insurance mill in Australia in the past three years. Basically, because of world-wide problems with the insurance industry (claims, losses, etc), premiums for community organisations to run simple events such as fairs, festivals, sporting events, even just crocheting (!) tripled or quadrupled or worse. Even more seriously, insurers withdrew from offering policies in certain areas, including outdoor recreation. In cycling, for example there really is only one company offering coverage to cycling clubs, and unless you go through the national cycling organisation as an affilitate, the premiums are exhorbitant.

    Effectively, many organisations were left with nothing to do but cancel events. It was a disgusting mess. The insurers blamed the legal system for enabling uncapped damages awards. The legal system blamed the insurers for being greedy. There has been some tort reform instituted by governments here, and that has helped stabilise the situation somewhat. But the premiums aren't going to return to their previous level, and a claims history may well result in policy cancellation and not being able get coverage anywhere else.

    The organisation for which I work had the same difficulties as everyone else. In the end, we were advised legally that if we wanted to operate without P/L, we'd better have $15,000 (the proposed premium) tucked away anyway as a contingency, just to get legal advice and lodge a response to a writ in the court. Under our incorporation structure, club directors are held responsible; if there is no insurance, their houses and other property are up for grabs in the legal feeding frenzy.

    I have learned to err on the side of caution. Your duty of care to any group as a leader -- irrespective of whether members of that group are paying or not -- is paramount. Planning to reduce risk to a minimum for that group goes a long way to overcoming the possibility of legal action because nothing will happen.

    I so often hear people say: "I'll take responsibility for my own actions. You don't need to worry". Sadly, these are the very people I DO worry about. They seem well meaning, but when faced with quadraplegia from a broken neck sustained in an organised activity, they (or their family if it is a fatality) are going to look for anyone they can to sue -- starting with the organisers and going right through to the property owner -- so they can have some quality of life.

    wpflem, it doesn't matter how much money you have and ultimately whether you have PL cover. I don't suppose you can get much broker than broke if you don't have any assets and someone sues you. Remember, D-Fox is representing a church group, and anyone hurt on one of his outings might just think of suing the church at a national level because churches are perceived as very wealthy institutions. See, it's not that simple. And the duty of care is on D-Fox to look after his church's interests as well as the participants.

    Further, just being part of a serious incident can have an impact on the leader/organiser. If there is really serious injury or death, the intervention of the police will be required. Traumatic enough. Maybe even a coroner's inquiry. Even more trauma, way ahead in the future. Then the possibility of being sued.

    I know of several incidents involving school children who have died on outings. In one case, one of the leaders involved committed suicide some time afterwards because he couldn't get over what happened. It destroys families on both sides. It's horrible.

    I am not bein insulting here, but older people need the same care and attention as children because many of the issues are the same on outings. Things like dementia, physical abilities and as mentioned ailments such as diabetes and asthma, while not directly comparable, can have the same outcomes.

    Risk assessment and reduction is worth it on so many front. It doesn't require an ambulance and police escort. What it does need is access to those things if something does go wrong.

    Also, you mentioned your were setting up a shop. Your interests certainly will be protected by having PL insurance, professional and product insurance, as well as damage and other insurances. Oh, and even more so if you advertise and promote any rides that start at your shop.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I so often hear people say: "I'll take responsibility for my own actions. You don't need to worry". Sadly, these are the very people I DO worry about. They seem well meaning, but when faced with quadraplegia from a broken neck sustained in an organised activity, they (or their family if it is a fatality) are going to look for anyone they can to sue -- starting with the organisers and going right through to the property owner -- so they can have some quality of life.
    (emphasis added)

    My son became quadraplegic in a sporting accident, the result of no supervision by the college and coaching satff, and poor coaching.

    You can bet we sued. The costs of providing for his care are astronomical. There is no "safety net" that provides anything but the barest minimal existence. It took 11 long years, but we finally won.

    ALong the way we and he were able to get him through college, through Stanford Law School and he is, while still unable to move anything below his shoulders, a practicing attorney, nationally known, married to a Yale Law School graduate (and in answer to the common question - no she does not have a disability), has an office in Downtown Denver and does a lot of flying to and from Californaia, where he is highly respected. He was recently offered a top job at a nationally known commission regarding employment and disability, but turned it down.

    This nearly bankrupted us, and along the way we continued to provide support for our other son, who is profoundly handicapped and also suffered a spinal cord injury about 5 years ago.

    One view of carrying insurance that few people consider is that, if you ARE at fault, you have the resources (in the insurance) to help remedy your mistake, at least financially. Few folks consider this. And, as you say, it is devastating - to the person causing my son's injury, for example - and to the family. I had to quit my job in order to provide support for my son for 3 years.

    Now he is a tax paying citizen, who pays for his aides and medical care/insurance out of his own earnings, not taxpayer dollars.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 02-18-05 at 07:17 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  23. #23
    www.getafolder.com wpflem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    We have been through the liability and insurance mill in Australia in the past three years. Basically, because of world-wide problems with the insurance industry (claims, losses, etc), premiums for community organisations to run simple events such as fairs, festivals, sporting events, even just crocheting (!) tripled or quadrupled or worse. Even more seriously, insurers withdrew from offering policies in certain areas, including outdoor recreation. In cycling, for example there really is only one company offering coverage to cycling clubs, and unless you go through the national cycling organisation as an affilitate, the premiums are exhorbitant.

    Effectively, many organisations were left with nothing to do but cancel events. It was a disgusting mess. The insurers blamed the legal system for enabling uncapped damages awards. The legal system blamed the insurers for being greedy. There has been some tort reform instituted by governments here, and that has helped stabilise the situation somewhat. But the premiums aren't going to return to their previous level, and a claims history may well result in policy cancellation and not being able get coverage anywhere else.

    The organisation for which I work had the same difficulties as everyone else. In the end, we were advised legally that if we wanted to operate without P/L, we'd better have $15,000 (the proposed premium) tucked away anyway as a contingency, just to get legal advice and lodge a response to a writ in the court. Under our incorporation structure, club directors are held responsible; if there is no insurance, their houses and other property are up for grabs in the legal feeding frenzy.

    I have learned to err on the side of caution. Your duty of care to any group as a leader -- irrespective of whether members of that group are paying or not -- is paramount. Planning to reduce risk to a minimum for that group goes a long way to overcoming the possibility of legal action because nothing will happen.

    I so often hear people say: "I'll take responsibility for my own actions. You don't need to worry". Sadly, these are the very people I DO worry about. They seem well meaning, but when faced with quadraplegia from a broken neck sustained in an organised activity, they (or their family if it is a fatality) are going to look for anyone they can to sue -- starting with the organisers and going right through to the property owner -- so they can have some quality of life.

    wpflem, it doesn't matter how much money you have and ultimately whether you have PL cover. I don't suppose you can get much broker than broke if you don't have any assets and someone sues you. Remember, D-Fox is representing a church group, and anyone hurt on one of his outings might just think of suing the church at a national level because churches are perceived as very wealthy institutions. See, it's not that simple. And the duty of care is on D-Fox to look after his church's interests as well as the participants.

    Further, just being part of a serious incident can have an impact on the leader/organiser. If there is really serious injury or death, the intervention of the police will be required. Traumatic enough. Maybe even a coroner's inquiry. Even more trauma, way ahead in the future. Then the possibility of being sued.

    I know of several incidents involving school children who have died on outings. In one case, one of the leaders involved committed suicide some time afterwards because he couldn't get over what happened. It destroys families on both sides. It's horrible.

    I am not bein insulting here, but older people need the same care and attention as children because many of the issues are the same on outings. Things like dementia, physical abilities and as mentioned ailments such as diabetes and asthma, while not directly comparable, can have the same outcomes.

    Risk assessment and reduction is worth it on so many front. It doesn't require an ambulance and police escort. What it does need is access to those things if something does go wrong.

    Also, you mentioned your were setting up a shop. Your interests certainly will be protected by having PL insurance, professional and product insurance, as well as damage and other insurances. Oh, and even more so if you advertise and promote any rides that start at your shop.


    I absolutely agree that risk reduction is paramount and a good citizen's responsibility, but it is sad when fear of lawsuits is so inhibitory especially in a good-will effort such as the church outing as described. If I allowed myself to a be a liability-fear cripple, I would never have opened the bike shop in the first place. There is real risk there, but I feel strongly that what I am promoting has great social value even if the venture over time never proves profitable or even self-sustaining.
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  24. #24
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    I admire what you are doing. Good luck with the venture, and I hope it does indeed become sustainable and profitable enough for you to be comfortable.

  25. #25
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wpflem
    I absolutely agree that risk reduction is paramount and a good citizen's responsibility, but it is sad when fear of lawsuits is so inhibitory especially in a good-will effort such as the church outing as described. If I allowed myself to a be a liability-fear cripple, I would never have opened the bike shop in the first place. There is real risk there, but I feel strongly that what I am promoting has great social value even if the venture over time never proves profitable or even self-sustaining.
    It is not inhibiting me at all. I am taking the precautions that anyone should take in such a venture and that are so frequently overlooked.

    If fear of a lawsuit makes my church activities safer, isn't that a good thing?
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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