Liability Question w/ Home Jumps- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    wretch
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    Liability Question w/ Home Jumps

    So got a few little doubles and two lines getting built up at my house. Yesteday a good friend almost really hurt himself. . . jumped, landed, squirled, flew over the bars head first into a tree. Luckily his helmet took all the brunt and his wrist is jacked.

    Bringing my to a question, might seem a little weird, but you never know. Is there any sort of standard issue liability form I can tailor or create to protect me or my property per say from any sort of freak incident that could happen that friends would sign just in case?

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    I think if they were real friends you wouldnt require anything like that no?
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by derekr
    I think if they were real friends you wouldnt require anything like that no?
    generally it's not you friends you need to worry about. It's their parents or significant other.
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  4. #4
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    There is no form that will completely protect you from any liability. In fact I have heard that if you sign a form lawyers consider that an acknowledgment that the property owner KNOWS their is a dangerous liability. If you can't afford the liability it's best to just not let anyone you don't trust an insane amount ride there. Even then, if your friend hurts himself his insurance company might come after YOU if they think they can recoup some of their losses.
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  5. #5
    wretch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    There is no form that will completely protect you from any liability. In fact I have heard that if you sign a form lawyers consider that an acknowledgment that the property owner KNOWS their is a dangerous liability. If you can't afford the liability it's best to just not let anyone you don't trust an insane amount ride there. Even then, if your friend hurts himself his insurance company might come after YOU if they think they can recoup some of their losses.

    Gotcha. Yea I'm not worried about my friends, it always comes from elsewhere, insurance company or trigger happy parents. Not sure where to take this. . .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truckee Trash
    So got a few little doubles and two lines getting built up at my house. Yesteday a good friend almost really hurt himself. . . jumped, landed, squirled, flew over the bars head first into a tree. Luckily his helmet took all the brunt and his wrist is jacked.

    Bringing my to a question, might seem a little weird, but you never know. Is there any sort of standard issue liability form I can tailor or create to protect me or my property per say from any sort of freak incident that could happen that friends would sign just in case?

    Cheers
    What I want to know is whether or not "squirled" is an official verb that we others may also use from now on in regular conversation?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truckee Trash
    Gotcha. Yea I'm not worried about my friends, it always comes from elsewhere, insurance company or trigger happy parents. Not sure where to take this. . .

    my friends built some dirt doubles and then put up post with a chain in between when they were not around to prevent others from riding
    Last edited by SHIVER ME TIMBERS; 10-16-2009 at 10:49 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Truckee Trash... what you have on your hands is what lawyers call an "attractive nuisance" or an "attractive liability".

    I'm not a lawyer, but I have worked in the realm of property law for a while now, and doing a stint as a property manager for about a year, this Wikipedia article actually covers things quite accurately:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attract...sance_doctrine

    If you don't have them sign a waiver, you're not protecting yourself. If you do, then you're admitting liability (in certain respects). But either way, you are aware of the danger of having the jumps, and others who ride them are aware of the implied danger (certain states believe children (ages 0-17 may not fully understand the danger involved in dangerous activities... blah blah blah). I might be wrong about this but I heard that certain states list certain sports (ie. most sports) as dangerous to the health of the player, user, rider, etc., and those sports are "at your own risk". Not that this has ever stopped a lawyer from suing the pants off of a bicycle shop, a baseball team, or a helmet company, etc.

    Either way, my take on it is this: if the guys riding what you have built are buddies, just make them verbally aware of the danger and carry on. But make sure that you actively kick-out those people (probably kids) who come and ride your stuff when you're not there to supervise.

    Just my $0.02.

    And remember... this day and age, no one is responsible for their own actions... even if that means that they didn't understand why taking a bath with a toaster was a bad idea.
    Meh.

  9. #9
    wretch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prettym1k3
    Truckee Trash... what you have on your hands is what lawyers call an "attractive nuisance" or an "attractive liability".

    I'm not a lawyer, but I have worked in the realm of property law for a while now, and doing a stint as a property manager for about a year, this Wikipedia article actually covers things quite accurately:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attract...sance_doctrine

    If you don't have them sign a waiver, you're not protecting yourself. If you do, then you're admitting liability (in certain respects). But either way, you are aware of the danger of having the jumps, and others who ride them are aware of the implied danger (certain states believe children (ages 0-17 may not fully understand the danger involved in dangerous activities... blah blah blah). I might be wrong about this but I heard that certain states list certain sports (ie. most sports) as dangerous to the health of the player, user, rider, etc., and those sports are "at your own risk". Not that this has ever stopped a lawyer from suing the pants off of a bicycle shop, a baseball team, or a helmet company, etc.

    Either way, my take on it is this: if the guys riding what you have built are buddies, just make them verbally aware of the danger and carry on. But make sure that you actively kick-out those people (probably kids) who come and ride your stuff when you're not there to supervise.

    Just my $0.02.

    And remember... this day and age, no one is responsible for their own actions... even if that means that they didn't understand why taking a bath with a toaster was a bad idea.
    Cheers!

  10. #10
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    I think it is total bullsh!t that insurance companies consider a policy holder using their insurance to be a loss. That's exactly what insurance is for in the first place. What about the money i give them all year so that fat lazy f••ks can suck up all of the benefits, then next year my rates will go up again even though i do what little bit is needed to stay healthy. Sorry for ranting, sh!t like this just makes me bitter.

    Also, if anyone does get hurt, make sure they say they fell on state property like a ditch or something, that should keep you in the clear.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny No.5

    Also, if anyone does get hurt, make sure they say they fell on state property like a ditch or something, that should keep you in the clear.
    Bingo, every accident you ever have on your bike is "playing in the street", "Jumping off a curb", "slid out on the street" etc. Remember, you NEVER take your MTB bike ANYWHERE but the street.

  12. #12
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    Thats why its wiser to secretly build jumps illegally on public land...lol And join a street gang...those are legal too.
    This won't hurt a bit...

  13. #13
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    Truckee; As much as it seems unlikely, your friends can and will sue for whatever they can get when faced with big medical bills. I've seen it firsthand, still can't believe it happened...You gotta CYA.
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  14. #14
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    his insurance company can/may try to recover costs also. You need to build the stunts on public land.

  15. #15
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    Put up a sign that says RIDE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
    Also put up a NO TRESPASSING sign near the RAYOR sign.
    Keep them separate. But close to each other and very noticeable.

    If anyone gets hurt. Drag them into the street and deny everything. lol

    A mail man going to your house can sue you for any thing that he gets hurt on or with.
    But if you have a clearly posted NO TRESPASSING sign you'll be covered in most cases.
    next time

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  16. #16
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    C'mon, the solution is obvious!

    Dig a deep hole between a double. Then if someone gets hurt badly just throw them in the ditch and fill it in.
    JRA

  17. #17
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    Here's a link to California's recreational use statute. http://www.americanwhitewater.org/re...se_Statute.htm That's everything you need to know. The most important part is that if you do not charge a fee for use of your property then you have no duty of care. All you have to do is not intentionally create a hazardous situation. If your jumps are reasonably safe without compromising the essential nature of dirtjumping then you're fine unless some genius lawyer somehow manages to prove intent. That's a BIGGGG stretch that rarely works, even in our litigious society. Most states have similar recreational use statutes.

    Edit: I should add that a policy of requiring someone to dig to be allowed to ride the spot could be interpreted as a fee.

  18. #18
    wretch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde
    Here's a link to California's recreational use statute. http://www.americanwhitewater.org/re...se_Statute.htm That's everything you need to know. The most important part is that if you do not charge a fee for use of your property then you have no duty of care. All you have to do is not intentionally create a hazardous situation. If your jumps are reasonably safe without compromising the essential nature of dirtjumping then you're fine unless some genius lawyer somehow manages to prove intent. That's a BIGGGG stretch that rarely works, even in our litigious society. Most states have similar recreational use statutes.
    Again much appreciated. I didn't think twice about it until this morning when I got a reaming from the lady.

    It seems overall if you create a liability waiver your admitting guilt. . . or is thait waived by the above quoted statement. . .

  19. #19
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    As long as there are lawyers and people who use them, you'll always have that risk of legal liability.

    If you have a fence around the area you are building the jumps and such on and keep it locked, you have made due effort to keep unwanted riders off the property. Granted, if someone wants to ride your jumps bad enough, the fence won't be a deterrent.

    If whoever goes over the fence and gets hurt, you can say you made every effort possible to keep your backyard private and that there is ample evidence to say the person who got injured made a clear, conscience decision to trespass and ride where they weren't supposed to be riding.

    As far as your friends, that can be a tricky issue. I'd be wary of letting strangers ride on your property because you really want to know the folks you let in.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truckee Trash
    Again much appreciated. I didn't think twice about it until this morning when I got a reaming from the lady.

    It seems overall if you create a liability waiver your admitting guilt. . . or is thait waived by the above quoted statement. . .
    If you charge a fee or require people to dig then you absolutely have to have a waiver. When people beat waivers in court it's always on a technicality of the waiver itself rather than the language of the waiver. For example: Some states can throw out a waiver that isn't notarized. Others require specific formats for waivers. If you go that route then make sure you know EVERYTHING about waivers in your state.

    If you charge no fee a waiver is totally unnecessary and could certainly call your intent into question at which point they will begin looking for a way to rule it void.

  21. #21
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    The OP is right to worry about this. But it is so depressing that he has to think about this.

    Come on, you're no spreading bear traps and candies to catch little kids.

    Dirt jumping is a sport and it's voluntary. You have to bring a bike to jump the thing. It's not something you unwillingly fall into or something.

    It may not look so strange for you guys, but for foreigners this is creepy.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHIVER ME TIMBERS
    my friends built some dirt doubles and then put up post with a chain in between when they were not around to prevent others from riding
    A chain between the doubles? I can see how that would prevent some people (bottom heavy pirates) from using them, but wouldn't most people just jump the chain beteen the doubles?
    The guy yo' momma "act" like she don't know!

  23. #23
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    I think he means between landing of the 1st jump and takeoff of the 2nd. No way to get over it then.
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  24. #24
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    you just gotta wrap some mattresses around those pesky trees like they do at the ski hill, might as well pad the landings too like that kid in the movie "RAD". Then you'll be safe...or quit building your yard so damn gnar!!! isn't there enough gnar gnar fun around your house to not have to build at your house? I think I gotta come up there and inspect the safety ratings of these jumps

  25. #25
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    It's best to check your state landowner liability law.
    My friend and I have a freeride park built on his lot. We have the RAYOR and NTP signs up. However, I checked the TN landowner liability law anyway, and it states that you are only liable if you charge admission, OR if someone gets hurt as a direct result of poorly built structures. That means if you ride off a well made structure and crash because of your own lack of skill, the landowner isn't liable.
    But like someone mentioned, anyone can sue anyone for anything, or at least try.
    Jump it onto something off of something or over something.

    There's more to freeriding than dirt jumps.

  26. #26
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    Cru Jones is not a kid! How dare you......

  27. #27
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    lame isn't it

    Quote Originally Posted by amrgb
    The OP is right to worry about this. But it is so depressing that he has to think about this.

    Come on, you're no spreading bear traps and candies to catch little kids.

    Dirt jumping is a sport and it's voluntary. You have to bring a bike to jump the thing. It's not something you unwillingly fall into or something.

    It may not look so strange for you guys, but for foreigners this is creepy.
    Lawyers have a place in American society and have played some very important roles that have brought about a lot of good, think civil rights and true cases of injuries being caused by idiots, however I agree that it's getting ridiculous lately...........makes me think twice about some moves I've built, not too worry I'm an expert builder (very safely designed and executed) and they're on public land. I really want to hate insurance companies, I've been screwed by them, but frankly their bad behavior is somewhat a result of lawyers suing them; Someone gets hurt, insurance co's not too nice, lawyer sues insurance co, insurance co becomes even more of a tight wad punk, everybody gets pissed...... repeat a couple hundred times to get an idea of where we're at in this situation.

    I broke my arm riding at Brian Head and had two insurances (personal and work) at the time, well I used one on the initial visit and the other at a different time, I had no idea it would turn out to be a nightmare.......both losers said the other one had to pay for the bill, they both retracted their doctor payments and would not pay..........I ended up having to pay for it out of pocket......makes we wonder why I have insurance at all, and that was with TWO insurances!!!!
    I like bikes.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truckee Trash
    Again much appreciated. I didn't think twice about it until this morning when I got a reaming from the lady.

    It seems overall if you create a liability waiver your admitting guilt. . . or is thait waived by the above quoted statement. . .
    what's up TT, glad to hear that the yard is developing. personally I wouldn't rely on that CA Recreational Use statute without further investigation. If that was the end of the story, then you wouldn't see fences (sometimes multiple) around every suburban pool you've ever been to. as pretty mike alluded to above, there is the concept of attractive nuisance in CA that could come into play. hopefully the REcreational statute would protect you but I wouldn't just assume that it does.

    at the very least, I would put up no trespassing/ride at your own risk signs, and I would also block off the jumps while you're not riding them. the last thing you want is a 13 yr old from down the block to get hurt riding your stunts while you're not around, then tell his parents that it happened on your property.

    I also think a liability waiver is a good idea. but really, I'd talk to a lawyer if the stuff you're building is big enough for someone to get messed up on.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmb_mike
    It's best to check your state landowner liability law.
    My friend and I have a freeride park built on his lot. We have the RAYOR and NTP signs up. However, I checked the TN landowner liability law anyway, and it states that you are only liable if you charge admission, OR if someone gets hurt as a direct result of poorly built structures. That means if you ride off a well made structure and crash because of your own lack of skill, the landowner isn't liable.
    But like someone mentioned, anyone can sue anyone for anything, or at least try.
    This is one of those areas that lawyers will focus on and find a way to hang you out to dry. There are similar issue with freestyle terrain and features in the ski and snowboard world right now, and every state is different. Because there are no recognized standards for jump design and construction, and I mean specific, measured take off angles, transition rate of change, jump width, gap distances, landing width, landing length, landing angle, etc., etc., etc., lawyers will bring in "experts" on engineering, physics, etc. that will be able to testify in a quantifiable way that there is some inherent flaw in the design, construction, or maintenance of the feature. On top of these issues, just as with snow, dirt is a constantly changing surface. Even if there were standards, which would be a bad thing as far as I'm concerned, jumps change constantly as people ride them and weather, wind, rain, etc. manipulate the surface. If the jump wasn't exactly perfect, according to the standards, at the time of the accident you would be screwed.

    Lawyers will do anything they can to show that the jump was unsafe if they take a case to court. They will reference any injuries that ever occured to show that you knew it was dangerous and didn't do anything to change it or make it safer. They will take measurements and somehow show that mathmatically it was more likely that riders would not land safely or in the right place or at the right angle. Most importantly, remember that if it goes to trial, the jury will be more than likely be made up of people who don't ride dirt jumps or participate in any sort activity that involves these kind of risks. They will see a kid with a serious injury, possibly sitting in a wheelchair, and they will see a picture painted by a lawyer that shows the landowner as someone who knew they had the potential for injury on their property and ignored that danger, putting others at risk.

    I've seen some absolutely shocking decisions in cases that were so clearly a user-error/bad judgement situation. In most cases, things will not be viewed as clearly in the legal process as we would hope.

  30. #30
    wretch
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    Less Lawyer talk. . . head up here and lets get "lost"

    Thanks though everyone for the info. Much appreciated.
    Quote Originally Posted by hardboiled
    what's up TT, glad to hear that the yard is developing. personally I wouldn't rely on that CA Recreational Use statute without further investigation. If that was the end of the story, then you wouldn't see fences (sometimes multiple) around every suburban pool you've ever been to. as pretty mike alluded to above, there is the concept of attractive nuisance in CA that could come into play. hopefully the REcreational statute would protect you but I wouldn't just assume that it does.

    at the very least, I would put up no trespassing/ride at your own risk signs, and I would also block off the jumps while you're not riding them. the last thing you want is a 13 yr old from down the block to get hurt riding your stunts while you're not around, then tell his parents that it happened on your property.

    I also think a liability waiver is a good idea. but really, I'd talk to a lawyer if the stuff you're building is big enough for someone to get messed up on.

  31. #31
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    In CA if anyone builds stunts on your land and someone gets hurt by using them you can be sued. They may not win but it will cost you $$$ to fight it.

    Your best chances to win probably are:
    build quality jumps that live up to standards, currently there are no golden building standards the only thing you could use would come from either here or here

    You must be able to prove to a reasonable person that your jumps are safe with facts. The facts you could use is that the above standards were followed and those standards are used at venue xyz and are considered safe.

    If you cannot prove that your jumps are safe with some hard facts then the injured person will win. They can easily prove they are not safe since someone got injured.

    Get insurance to protect you. Unfortunately this is probably your best choice if you are really worried about someone suing you.

    No trespassing signs are probably not ideal in this situation for a couple of reasons:
    1) If you are there and someone gets hurt, a reasonable person would not believe that the injured person is trespassing. You didn't kick them out see #2
    2) You must enforce this or you could be considered liable due to negligence because you did not enforce it.

    Better then placing the sign you could probably use trespassing as a defense if the injured person was not invited by you.

  32. #32
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    The reality is most lawsuits don't ever go to court. This is b/c most people know their case is BS. BUT, there will be a bluff for a settlement. It's tempting b/c you don't know what a court may decide, and your lawyer fees will be more than the settlement amount. So the only way to "win" financially (which is all we care about here) is to pay the settlement (aka the injured party gets free money from you). Example: I jump and crash and file a suit against you for $3,000. I offer to settle out of court for half ($1500). You talk to your lawyer who quotes his fees at $1000 minimum. You look at your check book and wisely settle with me. If you don't I MIGHT win the $3000 and maybe you will have to pay MY lawyer AND yours! So in the end, IF you LOSE, you may have to pay over $5G's!
    I will remind you that a suit is likely to be much more money than in my example. Just build your jumps in the woods somewhere like most of us...it's safer for you even if it is illegal. Then join that legal street gang I was telling you about earlier...crazy world...
    This won't hurt a bit...

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by amrgb
    The OP is right to worry about this. But it is so depressing that he has to think about this.

    Come on, you're no spreading bear traps and candies to catch little kids.

    Dirt jumping is a sport and it's voluntary. You have to bring a bike to jump the thing. It's not something you unwillingly fall into or something.

    It may not look so strange for you guys, but for foreigners this is creepy.

    Very creepy ,,,,, and sad indeed
    Quote Originally Posted by Warp
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