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Thread: liability release form

  1. #1
    Member steelguy's Avatar
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    Unhappy liability release form

    I know it is something that none of us want to think about, but in this day and age of filing law suits to get some "easy money", I think it is a valid topic to discuss here. Keep in mind that all costs are split equally and not one penny is profit in any way.

    Twice a year we (my boat partner and myself) spend a week or two taking a friend(s) out fishing on our boat. I have done this for years and never have had any problems and good and memorable time was had by all. Unfortunately, my last trip proved different. One of the guys (there was a group of 4 of us) did not reveal to me or my partner that he had some serious health issues going on weeks before the trip. The next seven days on the water, 70 miles from any sort of health care or emergency facility, he basically was not able to participate in any of the activities we did. Upon returning home and his visiting a hospital for a thorough physical, the doctors informed him that his heart was working at 10-15% of normal capacity (he was a smoker his whole life until two weeks before the trip!) and he needed 4 bypass stents immediately. Basically, he could very easily have had a heart attack or died at any moment and we would have been forced to deal with a situation we were neither prepared or qualified for. Now, today, 6 weeks later he is doing well and hopefully will live a long life.

    The whole idea is so foreign to my vision of enjoying all that Alaska has to offer, but we all know that Alaska and Mother Nature can be a very unforgiving place especially when you are on some big water.

    So, my question is: have any of you guys ever had a liability release form signed by guests on your boat? I guess the easy answer is simply don't invite friends on our boats, but we all know that is not practical.

  2. #2
    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelguy View Post
    I know it is something that none of us want to think about, but in this day and age of filing law suits to get some "easy money", I think it is a valid topic to discuss here. Keep in mind that all costs are split equally and not one penny is profit in any way.

    Twice a year we (my boat partner and myself) spend a week or two taking a friend(s) out fishing on our boat. I have done this for years and never have had any problems and good and memorable time was had by all. Unfortunately, my last trip proved different. One of the guys (there was a group of 4 of us) did not reveal to me or my partner that he had some serious health issues going on weeks before the trip. The next seven days on the water, 70 miles from any sort of health care or emergency facility, he basically was not able to participate in any of the activities we did. Upon returning home and his visiting a hospital for a thorough physical, the doctors informed him that his heart was working at 10-15% of normal capacity (he was a smoker his whole life until two weeks before the trip!) and he needed 4 bypass stents immediately. Basically, he could very easily have had a heart attack or died at any moment and we would have been forced to deal with a situation we were neither prepared or qualified for. Now, today, 6 weeks later he is doing well and hopefully will live a long life.

    The whole idea is so foreign to my vision of enjoying all that Alaska has to offer, but we all know that Alaska and Mother Nature can be a very unforgiving place especially when you are on some big water.

    So, my question is: have any of you guys ever had a liability release form signed by guests on your boat? I guess the easy answer is simply don't invite friends on our boats, but we all know that is not practical.
    Never have, never even thought about it actually.

  3. #3
    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Steelguy thats a very valid concern. Its my understanding that the Protection and Indemnity (P&I) portion of your boat policy would cover you in the event of of an unfortunate incident. I would make sure I had adequate safety, survival and 1st aid supplies. I'm also fairly certain you are covered in the event of negligence on your part like if you hit a rock and a person was injured. The waiver thing seems a little over the top when it comes to friends especially, its like breaking the news to your fiance you want her to sign a pre-nup, it goes over like a lead balloon

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    Member steelguy's Avatar
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    Fullbush,
    thanks for that information. I am going to call my insurance agent Progressive tomorrow and ask their advice. I am sure if they do not offer some sort of coverage as part of my policy, they will point me in the right direction. Like I first said, it is something I know I never wanted to even think about.

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    Member Blue Thunder's Avatar
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    It is my under standing that a waiver of Liability is no good in Alaska. I'm not a lawyer, but have asked this question in an other situation and was told that it would not hold up in court. I hope someone with more knowledge will chime in on this. I'm with fullbush, it would differently put a damper on the fun if you asked your quests to sign off, before they get aboard.
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  6. #6

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    Been down this road before. Hind sight being 20/20, it'd been best if I had no insurance...

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Not a lawyer, but I've also heard it through professional sources that a hold harmless or release form is a meaningless piece of paper. What works better than having your guests sign a worthless piece of paper is to develop a safety briefing that you give to everyone before the trip starts (not too much unlike what you get in an airplane, but a little more flexible and geared specifically toward your boat).

    Get yourself certified with a minimum of CPR & First Aid training, though a Wilderness First Aid course would be the best for what we're talking about. Get the proper safety and emergency gear. This way, if something bad happens, you can actually take care of the problem in an appropriate manner and generally with a good resolution.

    In my experience, if you are prepared and respond appropriately, their is no court date. However, if you're unprepared and don't have the means to help an injured guy out (especially if you just had that guy sign a piece of paper stating that he's on his own, which gives a very negative impression), that's when you're going to end up in court.

    Getting everyone involved in their own safety through a formal briefing always has a positive affect on the safety attitudes that will be displayed on the trip.
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  8. #8

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    Get a few million dollars in umbrella insurance.

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    I had a couple of dive boats in Florida. We had every client sign a liability release and a couple of other waivers before they were allowed to step foot on the vessels.

    There are lawyers who make their entire income from chewing up liability releases.

    They do not have a strong history of standing up in court.

    For personal boating, I do business with handshakes. If someone wants to sue me, well, I guess I can plead good intent.
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    Member jrogers's Avatar
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    I have a friend that is a pilot and has a liability release form he has his friends sign when they fly with him. The same thing could be done in boating, it may or may not hold up, but it would certianly be a barrier that someone would have to overcome to sue you. The basic premise that you are stating in a legal form is that if someone wants to go with you they recognise the risk, and are willing to take that risk. I personally do not do this with guests, but I do have an umbrella policy on top of my boat's liability insurance, so there is a pretty good barrier before I had personal liability if someone sued me.

    In regards to the specific issue you stated, I cannot imagine you would have a lot of liability. If the person had a heart attack and you called the coast guard and offered assistance to the extent of your abilities, it would not seem like you were at fault for anything.
    I believe that there is a law protecting people offering emergency aid in Alaska, but I am not positive on this.
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    It is my understanding, and I am by no means a lawyer or anywhere near one, that if a person boards your boat on inland navigable waters, they do so at their own risk. If your allow a person on your boat on the salt then maritime law is the relevent dictation.

    If someone knows otherwise, please explain.

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    nope i have lots of insurance on my boat just for that reason. Hurting someone in my boat is one of my biggest fears and thought that runs thru my haed everytime i run the boat.

  13. #13
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Aside from the Liability Waiver, we also used an Express Assumption of Risk form. There was one other. I'll see if I have any in my file.
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    Default Alaska's Good Samaritan Law

    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    I believe that there is a law protecting people offering emergency aid in Alaska, but I am not positive on this.
    I was somewhat trained on this subject years ago in a first aid class, but am trying to recall the details.....

    Yes, here's a link to Alaska's Good Sam Law: http://www.cprinstructor.com/AK-GS.htm

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    I would agree with Joat on this, When I take friends out on the boat, first of all I know all of them.
    We do a short safety brief on the boat dos and donts, where the first aid bag is and I am CPR, and Wilderness First responder as well.
    I will always ask a buddy or friend if there is anything that I should know about his health in the event of a problem.
    I think that as long as the Boat insurance is covered on occupants then you will be fine. Neg is just that, on the boat I am in-charge and will not a low a unsafe act by one of my friend. We all have fun and we come home to our families.
    Good luck

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    CAPTAIN GOES DOWN WITH THE SHIP...

    The captain of the very first ship to leave the dock after the very first lawyer was created coined this phrase. It saved the poor captain a whole lot of hassle!

  17. #17

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    You can beat me up on this all you want, but I look at this and say to myself, "are you kidding me?" I have liability insurance. A liability release form? I don't think so. I don't think it would be of much value anyway in today's judicial environment. I wouldn't do it on my boat any more than I'd do it in my vehicle. I guess I don't dwell on every "what if" that pops into my head, or anybody elses' for that matter. I boat because I enjoy it. If I started putting all kinds of restrictions on it, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy it. Not to mention, my friends would think I've completely lost my mind.

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Turner View Post
    Been down this road before. Hind sight being 20/20, it'd been best if I had no insurance...
    Why? Please explain

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Turner View Post
    Been down this road before. Hind sight being 20/20, it'd been best if I had no insurance...
    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Why? Please explain
    I've been wanting to ask the same thing but I've been half scared lol

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    You can not keep someone or there family from suing you. If you make it extremely hard for them to get any money they will not sue you. I looked at several liability release forms and found how you can do this.

    Its very simple they sign a statement saying they know how dangerous it is and they take FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THERE OWN SAFETY. They also direct there estate to pay all costs (times two) if they sue.

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