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Old 06-29-2012, 06:26 PM   #1
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Use of Disclaimers for Rallies

In the past year or two I've noticed several rally organizers have used disclaimers such as the one shown below:

And now, the statement forced upon us by our current society…..the legal disclaimer:

Your attendance at this rally is with the understanding that it is not sponsored by any person or organization. No monies are being collected for any events, and the responsibility for all expenses is borne by individual attendees. Likewise, all liability for any accidents, personal injuries, or damages (either at the rally site or while traveling to/from) is strictly the responsibility of individual attendees. In other words, this event is the same as if you were traveling/camping on your own, and happened to arrive at a campground where many other Airstreams were staying. Organizers/hosts are only acting in the capacity of “information providers” and “facilitators,” and will be held harmless from any damage claims resulting from your attendance.

So now I have several questions and if you'd like to add your own thoughts please do so.

1) Who came up with this idea for Forums rallies and why? (okay... that's two questions)

2) Does the rally organizer really believe this will hold them harmless?

3) If a rally organizer does use a disclaimer in the first post of the thread or somewhere on the rally page does the rally organizer also require all participants to sign the disclaimer or otherwise acknowledge the disclaimer has been read and understood?

4) Do we (Air Forums users/members) really think a disclaimer is necessary?

I have my own thoughts on when and why rally disclaimers started but I'd like to hear your opinions.

Thanks, Lucius
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Old 06-29-2012, 07:24 PM   #2
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This thread is likely to turn into a firestorm debate, but since I'm a little light on things to do tonight and my wife is upstairs reading, I'll go for it...

1) You could probably search for a few key words in that disclaimer and get a list of posts that contain it. Then, sort by date and voila! To be honest, my personal recollection is that it was first presented in the TAC private forum area as a suggestion and a few people bit on it. The why part...obviously someone or group of people felt it was needed.

2) I doubt the user of the disclaimer sees it as a 100% blanket, but more a way to make people aware of what they are getting into by attending the rally and that there are potential means to become injured by being there and/or participating.

3) I can't answer this one. I did not make this statement nor require anyone to sign such at the rally that I hosted. The new host of the same rally the following year did the same...no paperwork.

4) You'll never get a consensus on this so I assume you're inviting opinions. Here's mine: A person that I talked to on this topic before setting up my rally said, "It may not legally be worth anything, but if we ask someone to sign it and they are offended and say they won't sign; then most likely we're better off without them at our rally." I also talked to a lawyer regarding this since I happened to personally know a lawyer and didn't have to pay for the advice. I asked why major sporting events and "dangerous" activity venues have people sign something similar if they are worthless. His response [paraphrased, of course] was that they do it as well for awareness. If it really comes down to someone suing the track, ballpark, etc. then they will end up settling out of court before it gets too big because they know that ultimately they can hold up the waiver all they want and really not get much of anywhere. The court sees the usage of a waiver almost like evidence that the venue KNOWS that they are doing something dangerous and is therefore trying to cover themselves ahead of time and therefore liable because they are conducting an activity not in the best interest of the public. That seems kinda messed up, but the gray area that we live in is somewhere between that and no waiver at all. For my rally, I chose not to do a waiver because it was rather small (<20 Airstreams), it was held at a campground and therefore most liability was assumed by the campground, and in general I feel that when the rally is exclusive to a very tight group then as long as you are comfortable with the group then there's little need for a waiver. I also like to trust in that most people are like me and take responsibility for their own actions. If it really makes someone feel better to try to take away the way of life from my family by suing us out of everything we have, then so be it. Karma's a b!tch.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:00 PM   #3
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I have hosted over a dozen rally events and have never thought to use one of these. A disclaimer or waiver does not prevent anyone from filing suit if they want to. I really don't think it would matter if you had one or not.

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Old 06-29-2012, 09:59 PM   #4
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:08 PM   #5
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Certainly can't hurt to have one if you're hosting. With how litigious things are these days I wouldn't host something without one. Sure someone could still file a lawsuit against you, but as soon as you showed the judge something signed like this their case would get a lot thinner.
In the film business we always have everyone sign these types of things to cover our butt if / when people do stupid things.
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:13 PM   #6
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W7ts going on rally legal liability no camp lists all across country. . . lol
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Old 06-29-2012, 11:18 PM   #7
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As a matter of law - a waiver is of no standing if you are injured or damaged is caused by the negligence of someone. It is more important for organizers to seek out an insurance company that specialized in event liability, see what coverage costs, and either get insurance or have attendees provide proof of 3rd party liability coverage.

Now - the issue of a 'facilitator' being held liable would depend on their capacity in whatever claim was filed. If you trip coming out of your camper and fall on your face, you'd have to prove that somehow the facilitator contributed to that.

There is no 'grey area'... if someone is negligent, they are liable. Tort law may limit the damages you can pursue from state to state, but the waiver is not an excuse for negligence. For example, if you get a sore neck from riding a roller-coaster, you are unlikely to get far suing someone, as the waiver explains that theme parks are somewhat physically taxing. If the roller-coaster crashes into the ferris wheel... that waiver means nothing. BUT, if you could prove that the design of the roller-coaster was defective and caused everyone to get a sore neck - you'd have a case.

In any case... anyone that is going to put their name to an event should have liability insurance... I worked for a company that had a special department meant for these things... company golf tournies, chuch camps, that kind of stuff... and coverage was fairly cheap.
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:52 AM   #8
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I'll bet it all started with some blood sucking lawyer.
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:50 AM   #9
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Use of Disclaimers for Rallies

Greetings nvestysly!

I suspect that this document may have been a reaction to the liability insurance that covers the caravan or rally organizer who organizes a rally or caravan for the Wally Byam Caravan Club International under the asupices of a Unit, Region, or Intra-Club. I know that in terms of a caravan that I planned, two of the campgrounds asked for proof of liability for the group before offering their group discounts.

I don't really think that the statement is going to limit any responsibility for negligence on the part of an organizer or someone acting as his/her agent. The way it was explained in caravan leader training with the WBCCI was that the liability coverage provided by the club for sanctioned events would cover such things as damage to a coach where a rally/caravan volunteer directed a participant to park in a particular manner and the coach sustains damage from being backed into a tree or post; physical injuries to a participant who trips over a poorly maked rope divider to indicate a no parking area and sustains a broken bone as a result of being tripped by the rope.

Given the propensity within today's society to sue for damages after any kind of accident, I wouldn't consider planning a rally or caravan without an umbrella liability policy of some type. I have participated in the planning of a rally as well as a caravan, and in both cases these were sanctioned by either a local unit or intra-club of the WBCCI so we were covered by their liability policy.

Kevin
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:09 AM   #10
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In the case of WBCCI I can certainly understand the need for disclaimers and the club providing insurance for rallies, caravans and other group functions. WBCCI is an entity with assets which need to be protected.

However, Air Forums is different. Yes, there are people behind the scenes at Air Forums - the owner of the forum, the moderators and others. But in general we're individuals. Yes, individually we have assets. For example, friends come to your house, driving your automobile to/from work, etc. all involve danger (an therefore liability) and we don't have disclaimers for those activities. I'm going to a friend of a friend's house for July 4th. Is he going to have a disclaimer at his front door. I sure hope not. Why then are Forum rallies posting disclaimers?

In the most simple forum rally situation individuals post information on where they are camping and others decide to join them or not. In some cases a forum member steps forward and aids in assisting with phone calls and other arrangements so the group of people can meet and socialize with a minimum of fuss and bother. Some forum rallies go a little further and make plaques, stickers, nametags, etc. All that seems good to me. This is one of the reasons I like Air Forums - it's simple, there are very few rules and we choose our level of participation.

Posting disclaimers in bold print seems to be a bad precedent and I hope the use of disclaimers does not become commonplace on Air Forums.

My wife and I are attending the National iRV2 rally later this year. iRV2 is another forum operated by Andy. I have not seen a disclaimer associated with the iRV2 rally and I hope that does not change.

Lucius
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Old 06-30-2012, 09:13 AM   #11
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I've never considered this since really no money exchanges hands between myself as an organizer and the attendees at a rally. We pick a date and location but everything else is based on an attendee making and paying the site for their reservation and the participant attending our various pot luck food functions and taking the risk of eating someone's prepared food. Now maybe someone trips over a power cord for the DVD player that I'm using for the Saturday night movie but gee whiz.

We've already seen that disclaimers aren't worth the paper they are written on. A garage got sued and lost locally even though the receipt for parking had a disclaimer on it.

WBCCI has insurance since everything is highly organized through them and fees for the rallies are being paid to the organization. In that case they have employees and official members of the organization who act in the organizations behalf.

Airforums has no responsibility to the rallies that I put on. We call it an Airforums rally due to our relationship with this site, but as others have noted, it really is a gathering of like minded folks and friends. Those of us who do the hosting and planning act as individuals not as part of an organization or business.

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Old 06-30-2012, 12:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
For example, friends come to your house, driving your automobile to/from work, etc. all involve danger (an therefore liability) and we don't have disclaimers for those activities. I'm going to a friend of a friend's house for July 4th. Is he going to have a disclaimer at his front door. I sure hope not. Why then are Forum rallies posting disclaimers?


Lucius
You may not have a disclaimer... but you do (or should) have liability insurance on your residence. It's not about what a 'good person' would do and not sue someone for their own mistake... I see it happen all the time - someone gets hurt because of a 'friend's' mistake... they are all buddy-buddy and apologizing to each other... then the injured person realizes they can't work for 3 weeks... or maybe they are disabled long-term... (this is also when the alcohol usually wears off) they are in pain... they start thinking 'hey, this wasn't MY fault' (even if it was)... and your off to the lawyer's office.

My neighbour hired her friend to do some work on her house... good friends... he falls off the ladder and gets hurt... hospital says 'what happened?'... he is an honest guy so he tells the truth. The homeowner is now paying off a $35,000 hospital bill because she had no liability coverage.

Even if you hate insurance... it is best to have some...
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Old 06-30-2012, 12:53 PM   #13
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I've never considered this since really no money exchanges hands between myself as an organizer and the attendees at a rally. We pick a date and location but everything else is based on an attendee making and paying the site for their reservation and the participant attending our various pot luck food functions and taking the risk of eating someone's prepared food. Now maybe someone trips over a power cord for the DVD player that I'm using for the Saturday night movie but gee whiz.

....

Airforums has no responsibility to the rallies that I put on. We call it an Airforums rally due to our relationship with this site, but as others have noted, it really is a gathering of like minded folks and friends. Those of us who do the hosting and planning act as individuals not as part of an organization or business.

Jack
If I was running this forum, where money is being made by providing it (maybe not much), I would have some kind of liability coverage. Then at the very least if a legal issue did come up, the insurance company would be at the plate for you, and you wouldn't have to hire counsel.

Personally... if someone tripped over anything you put in your camp site, you could be liable for their injury... so making sure your RV policy has some liability coverage is a good idea.
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Friday View Post
If I was running this forum, where money is being made by providing it (maybe not much), I would have some kind of liability coverage. Then at the very least if a legal issue did come up, the insurance company would be at the plate for you, and you wouldn't have to hire counsel.

Personally... if someone tripped over anything you put in your camp site, you could be liable for their injury... so making sure your RV policy has some liability coverage is a good idea.
The key is the owner of the forum has no responsibility nor receives any income from any of the get togethers that are hosted by individual participants of the forum. What you are saying for all intents is that the owner of the forum should carry liability coverage to cover every person who posts a "lets meet up at location XYZ" this weekend. To me that doesn't pass the reasonableness test.

Jack
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