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  1. #1
    Ms. Monster
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    PSA: How to hold a group ride and not get sued

    Lots of people participate in group rides, ranging from formal training rides with a team to casual get-togethers with friends. No one wants to be sued, but as the casual get-togethers turn into something bigger, there is always the risk that someone will get injured, and you, the ostensible organiser, will get the blame - if not from the individual, then from their insurance company.

    So - how do you organise a group ride (on mtbr, facebook or elsewhere) and not run the risk of losing your house? I did some research. I was starting to get concerned as our Tour de Buttertart and Dundas Monstercross rides (no longer our rides, due to fitness and toddler-time issues) got ridiculously popular.

    1. Run it as a formal Club ride. This means that all participants must be paid and insured members of the club, and that the club must inform the OCA at least one week in advance that there will be a club "training ride".

    But what if non-club members want to participate? There are a few options.

    2. Run it as a formal Club ride (as above), but allow participants who are members of other clubs/teams and are insured by the OCA to purchase an Associate membership for a small fee. This is what the Hamilton Cycling Club does for its events. Issue - non-insured riders can still not participate.

    3. Run it as a Try-the-Club event. This means non-members who are not insured by the OCA have to sign a waiver and have their deets recorded. The ride must be registered with the OCA and the non-members may only participate in one such ride per year.

    4. Get a local shop to "run" the ride and register it under their insurance. They will typically have waivers and are set up for non club members. This is what they did for the Hallowe'en Big Azz Night Ride.

    5. Incorporate a company (I just learned of this option second-hand from a talk given by a lawyer to OCA race organisers). This apparently costs about $200. The company has no assets, so if someone sues, the business just goes bankrupt. It keeps your personal assets completely separate. It is important to stress in all correspondence / publicity that the ride is organised by the company, not by you as an individual (this goes for club rides too). Beyond the initial effort of setting up the company, there is no additional effort required; anyone can attend your event and no waivers are required.

    Edited to add: the directors of such a company could become liable, meaning they'd have to take out D&O insurance and demonstrate that it is a properly run company with a risk management plan etc. Thanks to Unglued (above)for pointing out some of the risks that remain by following option 5.

    So. Do you organise rides? Do you feel at risk? Discuss!
    Last edited by Nerdgirl; 03-03-2014 at 10:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Team NFI
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    Don't forget that not every club who organizes a group ride or event will be members of the OCA. Some will be covered like MTB Kingston through IMBA Canada or whoever else they use.
    www.teamnfi.blogspot.com



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  3. #3
    mtbr member
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    I'm intrigued by point number five. So you're saying that being incorporated basically trumps everything else and there's no need to mess around with waivers etc. for non-club riders on club rides?

    Our club is struggling with how to manage this right now. We don't want to exclude non-club pals from rides but we also want to be covered. We are incorporated.

    I guess the actual riders wouldn't have OCA insurance for themselves, but it would protect against someone (like a motorist, pedestrian) suing the group.

  4. #4
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    Thank you Nerdgirl for taking the time to research and post this up.

    Currently being named the 'President' of a non-incorporated club, having organized many public rides, not to mention recently seeing a person fracture a vertebrae while out on a ride who is now off work for 6 months, it makes you think hard about your liability when you step into a position of leadership.

    (As an FYI, the fractured vertebrae was not on a ride I organized. I wouldn't say it was organized at all, it turned out to be a pretty impromptu meeting of various groups of people riding at Hilton).

  5. #5
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlanB View Post
    I'm intrigued by point number five. So you're saying that being incorporated basically trumps everything else and there's no need to mess around with waivers etc. for non-club riders on club rides?

    Our club is struggling with how to manage this right now. We don't want to exclude non-club pals from rides but we also want to be covered. We are incorporated.

    I guess the actual riders wouldn't have OCA insurance for themselves, but it would protect against someone (like a motorist, pedestrian) suing the group.
    If I'm following correctly, I think point 5 is best for an individual organizing a ride. Like if we come on here and post for a group ride. I don't think you would want to have any affiliation to a shop or the OCA as they could be named on a potential lawsuit. They would ultimately have something to lose.

  6. #6
    Evil Jr.
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    Just one other thing: if your club is incorporated (and it should be), make sure you get proper director's insurance.
    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  7. #7
    Ms. Monster
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    CptSydor has it exactly correct. The reason that incorporating a company just to organise rides is worthwhile is because the company has no assets. Your incorporated club does protect you as an individual. However, if your incorporated club runs a ride that includes non-insured individuals and someone gets hurt, then:
    a) your insurance company will not cover any damages, and
    b) the club could lose all assets and have to declare bankrupcy. Bye bye club! Also, as an OCA-affiliated club, you could be putting the OCA at risk.

    I really wrote this post for CptSydor (I'd be willing to contribute $20 to incorporation expenses, btw), but thought the info would be useful to lots more people too.

    Quote Originally Posted by CptSydor View Post
    If I'm following correctly, I think point 5 is best for an individual organizing a ride. Like if we come on here and post for a group ride. I don't think you would want to have any affiliation to a shop or the OCA as they could be named on a potential lawsuit. They would ultimately have something to lose.

  8. #8
    Ms. Monster
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    Just to clarify (since you heard the lawyer and I didn't), would the "director" of an incorporated company also need director's insurance? How do you get that?

    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    Just one other thing: if your club is incorporated (and it should be), make sure you get proper director's insurance.

  9. #9
    Team NFI
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    Speaking of lawyers, lawsuits, and outdoor activities. Don't know if anyone saw last months court decision.

    'Ski buddy' not liable for heli-ski death, court rules - British Columbia - CBC News

    While skiing related this could have had ramifications in the long term and not just in skiing.
    www.teamnfi.blogspot.com



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  10. #10
    Chicken or egg? Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    Just one other thing: if your club is incorporated (and it should be), make sure you get proper director's insurance.
    Maybe, maybe not. Before taking out any D&O (Director's and Officer's) coverage it's important to read the fine print to make sure the coverage is actually providing the benefit you think it's providing, so that you aren't spending your insurance dollars on the wrong coverage.

    D&O coverage - at least those I am familiar with through cycling PSOs - is strictly for coverage of legal expenses related to disputes between directors in the management of the corporation. The D&O does not serve any function for general liability protection, and in this capacity the same general liability that is part of the club's general coverage is also what covers the directors.

    Although I cannot say for certain, I am guessing that mainstream D&O (i.e. not specific to cycling clubs through a cycling PSOs policy) is similar.

  11. #11
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    PSA: How to hold a group ride and not get sued

    Good thread Nerdgirl.
    But it really sux that it's necessary.
    I guess nobody's responsible for their own actions nowadays.


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  12. #12
    Team NFI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash&bern View Post
    Good thread Nerdgirl.
    But it really sux that it's necessary.
    I guess nobody's responsible for their own actions nowadays.


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    I don't think it is always people not taking responsibility for their operators choices and errors. Unglued might be able to confirm this. But from what I have heard a lot of the lawsuits are in the end insurance companies suing the other company to essentially get back the money they had to pay out for injury.
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  13. #13
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    PSA: How to hold a group ride and not get sued

    Quote Originally Posted by Enduramil View Post
    I don't think it is always people not taking responsibility for their operators choices and errors. Unglued might be able to confirm this. But from what I have heard a lot of the lawsuits are in the end insurance companies suing the other company to essentially get back the money they had to pay out for injury.
    Yes , I understand that. I've missed work due to injuries on my bike. I didn't go to my insurance and they didn't go after the trail builder/ride organizer.
    I understand the risks involved and don't think the trail builder or ride organizer should be held responsible .
    This is my opinion of course and I know many would disagree.


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  14. #14
    Team NFI
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash&bern View Post
    Yes , I understand that. I've missed work due to injuries on my bike. I didn't go to my insurance and they didn't go after the trail builder/ride organizer.
    I understand the risks involved and don't think the trail builder or ride organizer should be held responsible .
    This is my opinion of course and I know many would disagree.


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enduramil View Post
    Speaking of lawyers, lawsuits, and outdoor activities. Don't know if anyone saw last months court decision.

    'Ski buddy' not liable for heli-ski death, court rules - British Columbia - CBC News

    While skiing related this could have had ramifications in the long term and not just in skiing.

    She got 18million and wanted more !

  16. #16
    Chicken or egg? Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enduramil View Post
    But from what I have heard a lot of the lawsuits are in the end insurance companies suing the other company to essentially get back the money they had to pay out for injury.
    Right, but as C&B points out below someone had to make a claim and received a payout in the first place, for it to result in for one insurance company going after another.

    There are also some types of insurance that pay out income replacement as a matter of basic benefits, without needing to sue anyone, but I suspect the amounts involved there are generally small enough in the grand scheme of things that it's not worth it for the insurer to go after a 3rd party to recoup their cost of benefits paid.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crash&bern View Post
    I didn't go to my insurance and they didn't go after the trail builder/ride organizer.

  17. #17
    Team NFI
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    Quote Originally Posted by croft View Post
    She got 18million and wanted more !
    Yep.

    Though the biggest discussion was what this would mean in the long term both for organizations and even individuals.
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  18. #18
    Lemmy Rules!
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    I wouldn't recommend option no 5.

    Even though a corporation is a separate legal entity, it has to have directors and officers. If everyone on the ride knows the corporation was just incorporated as a shell to avoid liability for the individuals organizing the ride ( which I expect they will now, given that I think we all know which ride we are talking about here), anyone injured will sue those directors and officers personally too.

    There is a large body of jurisprudence which says that if an individual incorporates a shell corporation with no assets simply to avoid personal liability, a plaintiff will be permitted to pierce the corporate veil and the directors and officers would be found personally liable.

    The directors and officers would likely not be entitled to coverage under their home insurance and while D and O coverage is incredibly complex, the short answer is I doubt it would respond in a case where individuals simply incorporated a company as a shell to avoid personal liability.

    In case I was not clear enough above, I will say it again: Don't incorporate a company just to avoid liability or affiliating with a club. It won't work. If someone is seriously hurt and sues, at a minimum you will have to hire a lawyer to defend you personally and that could be tens of thousands of dollars.

    The real solution in my view is to run it as a club ride. Anyone who is a
    Member of any club is able to ride. And print off a bunch of OCA releases and make sure anyone who is not in a club signs one before you leave.

    Kim-if you or Marc or Cpt have any more questions about this, don't post them here. I cannot give legal advice to the whole world in a public forum, as my liability insurance will not cover me for it (irony!)-pm, email or call me and I will walk you through this in detail. Do not incorporate Tour de Buttertart Inc
    Last edited by Unglued; 03-01-2014 at 01:17 PM.
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  19. #19
    mtbr member
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    Personally, I would have no problem signing any kind of waivers. I am not in a club, but I always buy a UCI race license (through OCA) and I already signed a long list of waivers, so I think I would be ok.

    But I have no problem paying a reasonable fee for any temporary "membership" for the organized ride either.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    Personally, I would have no problem signing any kind of waivers. I am not in a club, but I always buy a UCI race license (through OCA) and I already signed a long list of waivers, so I think I would be ok.

    But I have no problem paying a reasonable fee for any temporary "membership" for the organized ride either.
    Same here. Our local club organizes group rides and members sign a waiver once a year. Whenever a group ride is posted, there is a link to the waiver document in case there are guests/non members who want to join the ride.

  21. #21
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    PSA: How to hold a group ride and not get sued

    Here's some good reading that may be helpfull to you Nerdgirl & others.
    IMBA s " managing mountain biking "
    Topics include.
    Liability waivers & participant agreements.
    Hazardous recreational activity immunity.
    Negligence and standard of care
    Types of trail related law suits
    Risk management
    Defense against negligence
    Assumption of risk
    And so on.
    Hope this helps trail builders & people hosting rides.
    Cheers
    Bern.



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  22. #22
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    RE: PSA: How to hold a group ride and not get sued

    Quote Originally Posted by tntt View Post
    Same here. Our local club organizes group rides and members sign a waiver once a year. Whenever a group ride is posted, there is a link to the waiver document in case there are guests/non members who want to join the ride.
    And non-members joining the ride are required to sign a waiver before the ride. Having said that there are only 2 regular club sanctioned rides so the other non-club regular rides should also benefit from the tips in this thread.
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  23. #23
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    Wonder where those "group" rides like Toronto's donut ride fall? While that is more known but there are group rides that have existed for many years and still do. No organization other then meet at x coffee shop at this time and ride. Know of one in Markham and at least 2 others.
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  24. #24
    Chicken or egg? Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enduramil View Post
    Wonder where those "group" rides like Toronto's donut ride fall? While that is more known but there are group rides that have existed for many years and still do. No organization other then meet at x coffee shop at this time and ride. Know of one in Markham and at least 2 others.
    I may not be remembering correctly, but I seem to recall at least one incident from the Donut Ride which resulted in legal actions between participants. If it's not an organized and insured group ride through a club, and there's an incident a rider could be held personally liable. Or, even if a suit were unsuccessful the legal expenses of defending could be significant. If it was an insured ride the insurance company's lawyers would probably handle it from end to end on their dime to try to mitigate the amount they have to pay in damages (if any).

  25. #25
    humber river advocate
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    correct me if i am wrong... anybody can sue anybody in a civil lawsuit... insurance or no insurance... incorporation or not...

    For many people, the litigation process can be very intimidating. Having knowledge about the process can help to ease one’s fears.

    Below you will find an outline of the twelve key steps in the litigation process:

    Determining Jurisdiction
    Statement of Claim
    Statement of Defence and Counterclaim
    Reply and Defence to Counterclaim
    Discovery Plan
    Affidavit of Documents (Documentary Discovery)
    Examinations for Discovery
    Answering Undertakings and Motions to Compel Answers
    Motions
    Mandatory Mediation
    Set the Matter Down for Trial and Pretrial Conference
    Trial
    Step One: Determining Jurisdiction

    The first step in the litigation process is to decide which court the action should be started in. If a person’s claim is for $25,000 or less, the action must be started in the small claims court. Claims for more than $25,000 should be started in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The process described in this document applies to actions started in the Superior Court of Justice.

    If a Plaintiff’s claim is for $100,000 or less, the claim is started in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, under the Simplified Procedure Rule. Claims over $100,000 are started in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the ordinary Rules. Parties can, however, agree to use the simplified procedure for claims over $100,000.

    Our litigation team members will be able to advise you in which jurisdiction the claim should be commenced, and whether to use the simplified procedure.

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    Step Three: Statement of Defence and Counterclaim

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    Step Ten: Mandatory Mediation

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    Step Eleven: Set the Matter Down for Trial and Pretrial Conference

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    The parties should also be mindful of the costs consequences rule that applies to settlement offers.It may be advantageous to make a reasonable offer to settle. Your lawyer should explain the details of how cost allocation works when offers to settle are made.

    Step Twelve: Trial

    The parties can decide to proceed with a trial if a settlement is not reached. Often, the parties will decide to settle the action before it goes to trial because the legal fees involved are quite high and there is always a risk that the party could lose at trial. Also, with the costs consequences of settlement offers, parties may be concerned that they may be liable for paying the other party’s costs if they lose.

    During a trial, both parties present their evidence by calling witnesses. Depending on the issues in the litigation, expert evidence may also be required. At the end of the trial, the judge will make a decision that is binding on the parties. If a party is not satisfied with the judge’s decision, an appeal may be started in some circumstances.

    For actions started under the simplified procedure rules, a party may request a summary trial. Summary trials have strict time limitations on presentation of evidence. The parties present their evidence by affidavit and then the person who signed the affidavit may be cross-examined by the other party’s lawyer for a specified period of time. In a summary trial, a party’s oral argument is restricted as well. At the end of the summary trial, the judge issues his or her decision.
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