Forum: Race Officers

Liability

Thomas Koenig
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
  • National Race Officer
Hello everybody,
this may not directly be a rule issue, but still important: is it enough to ask for a liability dislaimer signed by just the skipper or do I need the disclaimer signed by all crew members? RRS no. 3 and 4.4 just mention the acceptance of the rules. The rules to my understandig do not regulate the liability or am I wrong?
Created: 22-Feb-23 16:22

Comments

Lloyd Causey
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Regional Race Officer
0
Thomas, There are many of us that want answers about liability.  Noone seems to have a real answer, but I hope the national office is working feverishly to resolve this.Some may have a personal liability policy (rider) that covers them, but I bet not many of us. I do not think anyone on this board will have an answer as even knowledgeable insurance executives can't because it is all about the US Sailing policy.  I am afraid that if it is not resolved soon, we may have issues staffing some races soon. 

Created: 22-Feb-23 16:58
Greg Dargavel
Nationality: Canada
Certifications:
  • National Judge
0
This will vary greatly depending on the legal jurisdiction in which the event is held. I, for example, am aware of very significant differences between Canada and the USA in this regard. Looking at your certifications, are you wondering about a German event?

Created: 22-Feb-23 16:59
P
Yolanda Cortes Mares
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Your question asks for a legal opinion about personal liability which cannot be answered by the RRS. The laws in each State are different. Personally, I would request liability disclaimers from all the skippers and each crew member because skippers cannot waive liability on behalf of another person where I am. 
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:00
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
0
Lloyd, I think Thomas is asking the question from the POV of an OA ....  what should he be asking of competitors (both owners and crew) as far as liability for participating in an event.  I don't think he was discussing the RO liability issue we raised earlier. - Ang
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:00
Keith Ericson
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
  • Judge In Training
0
2021-2024 US SAILING PRESCRIPTIONS 
Rule 81 INDEMNIFICATION OR HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENTS
US Sailing prescribes that the organizing authority shall not
require a competitor to assume any liabilities of the organizing
authority, race committee, protest committee, host club,
sponsors, or any other organization or official involved with the
event. (This is commonly referred to as an ‘indemnification’ or
‘hold harmless’ agreement.) Go to rules.ussailing.org and click
the ‘Indemnification’ link for more information.
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:09
P
Angelo Guarino
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Regional Judge
  • Fleet Measurer
1
I know there are lawyers out there that will describe the important difference between "INDEMNIFICATION OR HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENTS" (not allowed) and liability releases (allowed).

Here is US Sailing's quick description: https://www.ussailing.org/news/release-of-claims-and-indemnification-agreements/
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:16
Michael Moradzadeh
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
1
For the Pacific Cup, we get a disclaimer signed by everyone, and a written promise by the skipper that they will not put anyone on the boat that has not signed the waiver. This might help.
We also have our own insurance, of course.
I'd be astonished if the race rules were held by a court to excuse liability, though the MIGHT help with the doctrine of "assumption of risk," which, depending on the state and the facts, might get one off the hook.

As a note to Keith's comment. A RELEASE of liability (I promise not to sue you) is okay. An INDEMNIFICATION (I promise to pay you if you are liable) is not okay. "Hold Harmless" is a vague and expansive term that adds nothing to the rule.
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:17
Craig Priniski
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Race Officer
1
I have no idea how it works in Germany, however in the US it is better to have each crew member sign a waver.  Wavers are not bullet proof but if the person sewing never signed on, well it's not going to help at all. Many regatta organizers only have the owner sign the waver which is fine for property, but not general liability.  In the US you can name any party to any civil law suit you like! It may be thrown out of court, but there is nothing stopping an injured crew from filing against the OA, the PRO, or any other volunteer committee. Talk to either your lawyer or your insurer to see what's best for your situation.  
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:19
P
Roger Wilson
Nationality: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
  • Regional Umpire
  • National Judge
1
Hi, As everyone points out, it is the law of the country in which the event is held that is applicable. 

In the UK, the RYA has an extremely good document titled "RYA Race Training and Event Management - Legal Aspects" which should be read by all Race Officers running events in the UK. 

In essence, forms disclaiming liability is rarely accepted by the Courts, but if a disclaimer approved by the Insurer of the Organising Authority is not signed by whoever the Insurer requires, the OA's insurance is not valid. In the UK, most OAs make the Race Team and all competitors and their crews temporary members of the Organising Authority (usually a Club) and so everyone is covered by "Member to Member" Liability Insurance, usually up to £10m, to which the boat's Insurance can be added so usually giving a "pot" of £13-16m for the courts to distribute to those who it feels have a valid claim. Up to now all claims have been settled within the limit of the amount of insurance available.

Prosecutions for criminal negligence are done by the Health and Safety Executive after a report from the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau if appropriate and disclaimers are ignored. 

In the UK most insurers insist the parents of those under 18 sign a disclaimer to stop the parents suing for emotional and other damages: those under 18 can not disclaim their rights in UK law. 

Hope that helps. 

Roger
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:39
P
Yolanda Cortes Mares
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Good discussion here. Judges, PROs, and OAs each have different duties that could potentially create significant personal liability for the volunteers at a regatta. It would be important to find out if the OA at your event has let it's insurance lapse relying on Chubb coverage for race officials. If that happens, you might want to call your own insurance provider to get "umbrella" coverage. If the OA has no coverage and limited assets, the person injured or the heirs of the person deceased who wins a negligence/tort claim in court may be able to reach your own individual assets if the OA's assets are not sufficient to cover the jury award unless you have insurance that would cover such a negligence or tort claim against you. As an example, what if you are Judging Rule 42 and you or the driver on your boat accidentally backs into a child, or you fail to render aid to a competitor in the water suffering from hypothermia or someone drowns for failing to wear an approved lifejacket (that was not inspected during registration or visibly not acceptable when worn under a pinnie) or suffers a concussion for getting hit in the head with the boom when approaching your boat on the windward side, or is allowed to compete without a medical release and you are aware? ...
Created: 22-Feb-23 17:55
Fabian Bach
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • International Race Officer
  • National Judge
0
Hello Thomas,
This question mainly concerns national regulations and requirements, which cannot be answered here. I would therefore recommend that you ask your question in a german forum again: 
https://www.raceofficials.de

Created: 22-Feb-23 18:41
Thomas Koenig
Nationality: Germany
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
  • National Race Officer
1
Thank's for the comments. Probably Fabian is right, that my issue is subject to German legislation. Thank's for the hint concerning the German forum, didn't know about it. Neverthelass I'm grateful for the international input, as liability is an international matter and there is always a chance for picking up ideas. 
Created: 22-Feb-23 20:15
Joe Erwin
Nationality: United States of America
Certifications:
  • Club Judge
0
Two points:
First, to answer Mr. Koenig's original question, most big boat regattas require all crew to sign a waiver of some sort.  Similarly, national championships and other regattas at that level.  Small one-design classes and club racing, not so much.  There is a theory that members of a club have given an implied waiver -- just by being a member of an organization that conducts an inherently dangerous activity.
Second, in the US because sailboat racing is do diverse among classes and types of organizations and so dispersed geographically, it is hard to generalize about what the liability of race officials is for negligence and what the standard is to avoid having an act or omission being deemed negligence.  In my view, a major reason for this uncertainty is not the fact there are so many jurisdictions, but rather the failure of US Sailing and its insurance "partners" to tell us the facts involved in what claims it has paid out on.  We just do not know the scope of the problem and hiding the ball by US Sailing has not been helpful.
Created: 22-Feb-23 21:35
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