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Be Careful what you wish for - liability monster looming

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Be Careful what you wish for - liability monster looming

Old 08-13-09, 04:59 PM
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canflyboy 
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Be Careful what you wish for - liability monster looming

I'm going to try to make this as short as possible and too the point.

Last year, March 2008, about six of us started a group ride. We started from the same "cafe" at the same time every week. Soon other people wanted to join and by year's end we had a loose group of about 20 cyclists. We'd contact each other via email regarding the upcoming ride or send out a feeler if anyone wanted to go out midweek.

The good/bad news is we are now a group of over 125 cyclists. We have rides, with ride captains, for all levels of roadies (and MTB'ers). We have a ride every day except Monday. We schedule Metric and Imperial Century rides that we've mapped out. We send out invites to local charity rides. We've got our own email address and even a facebook site. And we're still growing. Heck - we even have our own jersey

The original six cyclists have now become the shephards of this group.

We don't want to be a club.
We don't want to collect dues (to cover insurance)
We don't want to have to chase people to sign waivers.
WE DON'T WANT TO GET SUED

Having said that, how do we protect ourselves?? Do we need to protect ourselves? I'm not sure if it matters, but we're in Canada, not the USA.

Is there any insurance that's available for this? Has anyone else experienced this? Any lawyers that can provide some guidance? Every week more and more cyclist show up.

Be careful what you wish for.

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Old 08-13-09, 05:05 PM
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I have no advice for you as far a liability issues are concerned but it seems as if you have the opportunity to make the best of the situation and making the club more official.
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Old 08-13-09, 05:21 PM
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Create an entity. An LLC is one of the easiest ones. Have everyone sign waivers. But any good lawyer can get around signed waivers so you essentially have to get liability insurance.

My team is run through my company but I do not have any sort of liability insurance for cycling. Probably should look into it since its getting big.

I would be interested to know what everyone else who runs a team does.
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Old 08-13-09, 05:22 PM
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125 people is a lot of people.
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Old 08-13-09, 05:26 PM
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Congratulations on your success. With so many people something is bound to eventually happen, and even if the cyclist does not sue you someone else might. Consult a lawyer.
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Old 08-13-09, 05:30 PM
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This is an interesting question. I've never really considered this. For example, there is a training crit around here that is just some guys throwing some cones down in a business park and racing, nothing official. I wonder what the legal status of something like that is?
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Old 08-13-09, 05:30 PM
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I believe the League of American Cyclists has a program that allows you to get coverage. I think you have to form a club that's affiliated with them, then you can get (really inexpensive) insurance through them.


https://www.bikeleague.org/members/cl...brochure09.pdf

I'm not a lawyer, but I certainly wouldn't want to be held responsible for the actions of 125 people on a group ride.

(I did not follow all the details, but over on the 50+ forum there is an initiative to get BFers together this summer, and the wise members there formed a club and got covered under this program, as no one individual wanted to be responsible for "organizing" the event and potentially being held liable for mishaps).
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Old 08-13-09, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by canflyboy View Post

We don't want to be a club.
We don't want to collect dues (to cover insurance)
We don't want to have to chase people to sign waivers.
WE DON'T WANT TO GET SUED

Having said that, how do we protect ourselves?? Do we need to protect ourselves? I'm not sure if it matters, but we're in Canada, not the USA.
If this was the USA, the solution would be easy - don't form a club or make anything "official" - then there is nobody to sue.
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Old 08-13-09, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rooftest View Post
If this was the USA, the solution would be easy - don't form a club or make anything "official" - then there is nobody to sue.
Sure there is - the individuals who sent out the invitation emails, handed out any route sheets, etc.

AFAIK, the LAB just covers clubs in the US, so you'd want the equivalent Canadian organization. Of course if you want insurance coverage there will be a cost associated with it, so charging dues at some level would appear to be necessary. The LAB promoted insurance has an annual premium of about $1.50/member with a minimum of around $80. Their site also has a suggested waiver that you might want to look at for ideas in developing your own form.
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Old 08-13-09, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
Sure there is - the individuals who sent out the invitation emails, handed out any route sheets, etc.
.
Well, then that would be doing something "official," right?
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Old 08-13-09, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by canflyboy View Post
WE DON'T WANT TO GET SUED

Having said that, how do we protect ourselves?? Do we need to protect ourselves? I'm not sure if it matters, but we're in Canada, not the USA.
The original six of you need to drop out and go back to what you had end enjoyed so much...
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Old 08-13-09, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bearonabike View Post
The original six of you need to drop out and go back to what you had end enjoyed so much...
There ya go!

But on your site I would also disclose that everyone that joins the ride has the responsibility of themselves and that your group of six are not liable for any personal or property damage. To ride with the group is at their own risk.
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Old 08-13-09, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
There ya go!

But on your site I would also disclose that everyone that joins the ride has the responsibility of themselves and that your group of six are not liable for any personal or property damage. To ride with the group is at their own risk.
This, and at the bottom of every email and written communication.
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Old 08-13-09, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ok_commuter View Post
This, and at the bottom of every email and written communication.
Yup, that's the route I'd take.

Along with a:

By coming to this ride, you are making a conscious choice and freeing the ride leaders from any liability regarding your welfare. You are welcome to ride, but please do so at your own risk.
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Old 08-13-09, 07:01 PM
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uh huh. Not bad for a mtb'er, who hardly hangs out in road huh? *nods head*
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Originally Posted by making View Post
Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 08-13-09, 07:25 PM
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you could all just join your provincial cycling association. there's some coverage that way.
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Old 08-13-09, 07:31 PM
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I think it might be a good idea to have riders sign a waiver. With 125 people involved, there is going to be a lot of variability of the trust between any two people in the group. Also the waiver could help educate some riders of their potential risks.

Still having said that, I would think that the organizer of an informal group ride would have only a remote chance of being sued in the event of injury to a rider, unless the organizer could be proven to have done something careless or negligent that resulted directly in the injury. It would be more likely that the driver of an automobile which was (most likely) involved in the accident or injury, could be shown to be responsible for damages (i.e. failing to yield right of way to cyclist etc).
Here's an example of a waiver I found on the internet:


https://www.hutchsbicycles.com/rides/hutchsentryform.pdf
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Old 08-13-09, 07:40 PM
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completely ignoring your question here: I think what you did is awesome. The power of bikes! Where is your ride? can I join?
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Old 08-13-09, 08:12 PM
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Our club has 500 members and has been around for decades. We invite non-members to come on our rides and this has rarely been a problem. One woman came with us and slipped and fell on her ass at a McDonalds that was on our route slip as a rest stop. She tried to sue Micky D and us, too. We were told by someone in the court that we couldn't be sued in this case partly because we are a not-for -profit organization, and the club itself isn't owned by anyone and has no property or assets.
Our club leaders did look into the LAC insurance and we have that now.
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Old 08-13-09, 08:14 PM
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You'll get sued regardless.
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Old 08-13-09, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Our club has 500 members and has been around for decades. We invite non-members to come on our rides and this has rarely been a problem. One woman came with us and slipped and fell on her ass at a McDonalds that was on our route slip as a rest stop. She tried to sue Micky D and us, too. We were told by someone in the court that we couldn't be sued in this case partly because we are a not-for -profit organization, and the club itself isn't owned by anyone and has no property or assets.
Our club leaders did look into the LAC insurance and we have that now.
What a *****. I hope she didn't get a penny.

Hell, I hope she got put in jail for bringing a frivolous lawsuit (if only it worked like that...).
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Old 08-13-09, 08:25 PM
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Write up a verbal disclaimer. Say it b4 every ride. Record you saying it on your cell phone voice recorder.

Or, turn it into a business.

/tread
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Old 08-13-09, 08:26 PM
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why are you asking legal questions on a bike forum?

T

no matter what you have people sign or you put in an email, a good lawyer can get around it depending on the circumstances; but I recommend consulting a lawyer. (and not a lawyer forum)
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Old 08-13-09, 08:31 PM
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In what way are you any different, functionally speaking, from a cycling club? You should either suck it up and become an official club (which should make it easier to get some protection, I would think) or discontinue your group emails, the facebook group, the ride organizing, the jersey... y'know, all the things that MAKE YOU A CLUB. And, yes, by all means print a disclaimer on absolutely everything you produce.
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Old 08-13-09, 08:38 PM
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No matter what you do you can get sued. I'm not sure what the real risk is to you, but I'm sure they sell insurance that would cover it.
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