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View Full Version : Slalom course liability issues??


Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-21-2006, 12:35 PM
So I am thinking about installing a slalom course and I am wondering about liability issues as the course will be in public waters. What happens if someone uses it and gets hurt or goes thru on a jet ski and gets throw off or something and decides to sue for 10 billion dollars?? Obviously the course owner is liable. So is there any type of special insurance you have to carry to have a slalom course?? I figured this would be the place to ask as there are many people who have them here. any advice and information would be appreciated. Thanks!:)

LakePirate
07-21-2006, 12:37 PM
Install it and give it to the city as a gift for the parks and recreation dept. You can then write it off or your taxes. The only downside is they may take it out, but you do know the mayor.

bcampbe7
07-21-2006, 12:41 PM
If you are worth $10 billion dollars you would have a good lawyer to get you out of situations such as this. After all, he got you out of that Taiwanese hooker smuggling "misunderstanding" so he shouldn't have a problem getting you out of this should something go wrong.:D

3event
07-21-2006, 12:42 PM
If MI is anything like WI, the other obstacle is permits. That might be worth a look at the same time.

I agree that if you get the go, owning a course on public waters could lead to liability and other general headaches such as maintenance.

Some dudes set up a homemade one on our lake back in the 80s, and it took only a few days for homeowners' protests to get it removed. In those pre-GPS days, they waited until winter, measured it on the ice, drilled holes and dropped anchors.

jmac197
07-21-2006, 12:51 PM
In NY we established a Ski Club and registered it with USAWaterski. By registering, and paying a fee, we are covered under the USAWaterski insurance. My partner took care of all that so my knowledge is basic. Anyway, we purchased the course, gave it to the club, and the club maintains it. The club owns nothing worth suing for and we are only members of the club.

We also have a floating object permit for our course. Because everything is legal and we have a very good releationship with the local Sheriff's dept. the boat cop actually keeps an eye on it. The floating permit also allowed us to sink a couple of mourings so others can hang and watch without drifting into the course.

Later
Jim

Ric
07-21-2006, 12:57 PM
Get the sinkable kind

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-21-2006, 03:45 PM
Whats the sinkable kind Ric?:confused: How do you know the difference? Most I see are EZ slalom or insta-slalom. I am new to this stuff. SO you just sink the course when finished then? and raise it when your ready to ski again? what do you do, dive down there and attach buoys to it?

east tx skier
07-21-2006, 03:50 PM
www.walleyskier.com has redesigned the old accusink stuff, and supposedly done a really good job with the design. To sink it will cost you around $1,300 from walleyskier. Or you could give the buckts with rocks and tires method a go (pictures and explanation in this forum under DIY Submersible Slalom Course (http://www.tmcowners.com/teamtalk/showthread.php?t=5790&highlight=Submersible); also at www.aquaskier.com).

I'll throw in a plug for Ed at EZ Slalom. Great to work with. Well built course and good prices. If you're going for permanent installation, you'll want the $tainless $teel mainline.

Our permanent course is individually anchored. We have the portable because water levels are sometimes too low to use our permanent setup. We leave the anchors and subs out full time and swim the buoys out when we're going to use it. We haven't concerned ourselves with liability much. Traffic in our cove isn't an issue and the boats that are there are the neighbors who know to avoid it when it's installed. When it's not, it's deep enough that it's not an issue.

ski_king
07-21-2006, 03:51 PM
Whats the sinkable kind ....
http://www.wallyskier.com/wallysinker.aspx

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-21-2006, 04:00 PM
Well, the area we have in mind to install it isnt a high traffic area either. the issue is some idiot going out there and hurting themselves somehow and suing me or us for putting it there. It can happen no matter how low traffic it is. Idiots are idiots, period. I just dont want to leave myself at a liabilty risk where someone can sue me for everything I got because of their lack of sense.

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-21-2006, 04:02 PM
The walley skier course looks great, but its too costly. We are looking for a used course. Under $500 range.

east tx skier
07-21-2006, 04:03 PM
There was one in the marketplace for $250. I think the guy is goes by cwright and is in the Northwest. I'd already bought mine when he PM'd me about it.

Davo
07-21-2006, 04:23 PM
I've been wondering the same thing....living on a public lake here as well.

JMac has the best solution for limiting liability, but it sounds like the city would have to approve it which could be difficult in some parts if I had to guess. They don't want the liability either. :rolleyes:

That sinkable looks like a smart design....I wonder how well those airbags would hold up over time. However, that would never work on my lake as the average depth is like 6-8 feet! Attaching the buoys to permanent anchors each time out would seem to be the only option for me.

phecksel
07-21-2006, 09:00 PM
In NY we established a Ski Club and registered it with USAWaterski. By registering, and paying a fee, we are covered under the USAWaterski insurance. My partner took care of all that so my knowledge is basic. Anyway, we purchased the course, gave it to the club, and the club maintains it. The club owns nothing worth suing for and we are only members of the club.

Jim

Have you or your partner ever read the policy?

It will only cover the club during sanctioned events (or approved practice events). All participants MUST be USAWS members, or all coverage is null and void. Non members, or general public are NOT covered. IF you meet all the requirements, then the coverage is subjected to a $75,000 deductible.

If the club is sued, who's going to pay for the defense? Does asset liability protection extent to the members?

jmac197
07-21-2006, 11:19 PM
I never read it cover to cover. That's not my specialty. I think what you say is true for someone skiing the course and covers medical. I did talk to USAWaterski and they told me that if a member of the general public should get hurt by the course it is covered by the general liability of the insurance. I specifically asked him what about if a jet skier gets hurt somehow, they said that liability is covered.

If anyone from USAwaterski knows different PLEASE let us know!!!! I would hate to find out the hard way.


I also prefer to, some may say frivously, live in a world where I'm not in constant fear of being sued. It could drive a person crazy to the point where you are afraid to do anything....remember there's no reward without risk.

Later
Jim

phecksel
07-24-2006, 12:30 PM
I never read it cover to cover. That's not my specialty. I think what you say is true for someone skiing the course and covers medical. I did talk to USAWaterski and they told me that if a member of the general public should get hurt by the course it is covered by the general liability of the insurance. I specifically asked him what about if a jet skier gets hurt somehow, they said that liability is covered.

If anyone from USAwaterski knows different PLEASE let us know!!!! I would hate to find out the hard way.


I also prefer to, some may say frivolously, live in a world where I'm not in constant fear of being sued. It could drive a person crazy to the point where you are afraid to do anything....remember there's no reward without risk.

Later
Jim

Talk to the insurance underwriter, he's the one that has to pay the bill, not USA Waterski. I asked the specific question, "is the club protected if a non club member is injured in an accident while using the ski course?" The first answer was, "non members of the club shouldn't be allowed to use the club's ski course". It took about three times of asking the exact same question to hear the reply, "only club members are covered, and only during SANCTIONED events". I requested specific confirmation that general members of the public have no protection and they confirmed it. At least when I looked two years ago, any insurance coverage was subjected to $50,000 deductible. When I asked about the ridiculous deductible, they replied, "Do you know how much the insurance would cost with a lower deductible"? Finally when I read the underwriters policy, there was a clause that I didn't understand and never did receive clarification on, something to the affect of "policy void for clubs". Try to get the response in writing. I succeeded, but they may be reluctant to continue putting it in writing.

IMO (not a lawyer), if you're using USAWaterski membership for insurance purposes, I would ask some hard hitting AND SPECIFIC questions. Talk directly to the underwriter, and read the underwriter policy.

My attention to the details literally started from USAWS insurance primer page, and it's side stepping coverage questions. Then at our clubs annual meeting, one of the college students relayed (2nd hand) horror story about another school's competing member was seriously injured requiring emergency treatment. USAWS insurance refused to pay for treatment for two reasons. 1st reason given, because medical coverage is secondary ONLY (with $1,000 deductible). 2nd, because he was not sent to the "pre-approved" hospital. Pre-approved hospital was too far away for the life threatening injury suffered by the skier. Years before, our club suffered a boat accident and refused to cover the damage, because personal equipment is not covered.

I put together a white paper for my fellow club officers and as a courtesy fwd a copy to USAWS. After I did that, they did not answer any additional questions, nor did they even respond to my white paper.

There are still people and officers in our club that believe we are covered with a $5M insurance policy. USAWS has done a lot of good things for waterskiing and will continue to do so. Being sued for even invalid reasons happens. Living in fear over it, well, stuff happens. Our club is a not for profit corporation, with limited assets. Could we get sued, yes. How would we handle attorney fees, have no idea. Could the corporate veil be broken and individual members sued, again no idea? These are things I wrestled with in looking at the insurance and liability coverage. I would never recommend our club just give up and go away to avoid the liability. But one issue I fought with more then anything, was our jump laying unsecured and not meeting licensing requirements. I personally created a lot of animosity and dissension between board members, because I insisted we approach this with our eyes wide open and make fully informed decisions.

I wish you luck.

Robert Averyt
07-24-2006, 12:44 PM
I went through this problem early last year. We had to close down our club until we found good insurance coverage. I searched for many months until I found Stan Jones. If you are setting up a course and you do not have Insurance( IMHO )you are asking for trouble. There are ambulance chasing lawyers on every street corner. You might not loose but you will have to defend yourself.

Call Stan:


Stan E. Jones
Dexter & Co.
1509 Emerald Parkway Ste. 103
College Station, TX 77845
Office - 979-764-8444
Fax - 979-694-7603

stan.jones@dextercompany.com

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-24-2006, 12:59 PM
Thanks for all the info and keep it coming!!:) See thats just the thing, with civil law, anybody can sue anybody for anything. Just because we formed a non profit club, and joined USA waterski, that still doesnt prevent John Q. Idiot from hiring the lawfirm of Scrue, Finigle, and Finagle to name ME in a lawsuit. Even though its a club, individuals can still be sued. Civil law is way different than criminal law. I just want to be protected in case something happens. I am by no means rich, thats why I am concerned, I gotta protect what little I have worked for.

Ric
07-24-2006, 01:02 PM
true ump
do you tie down the transom of the boat to the trailer whilst towing?

how bout those amplifiers in the back of the truck when you are wearing your leather?

LakePirate
07-24-2006, 01:09 PM
Just to play devil's advocate what exactly are little rubber balls filled with air going to do to cause injury? I know people sue for all sorts of things but, the only real thing I can think of is if someone running an outboard through it and hits a stainless steel mainline and is thrown from the boat or the engine is ripped from the transom or something like that. Would a skier who is "injured" while running the course not be subject to the same injury while free skiing? I am unsure why anyone would have this insurance, it seems that by buying into this insurance thing that you are accepting blame already for any incident. I guess you could hit a buoy and break a leg on the fall, but are you not taking the same risk while free skiing? Aren't you just as likely to hit a stick floating in the lake? Or a milk jug that a fisherman has set up? I don't see that the buoys or lines that they are attached to are an inherent danger.

Why wouldn't your personal health insurance cover any injuries?
If you injure yourself hitting the wake of another boat are you going to sue the boat driver of the other boat? Perhaps the Army Corp of Engineers who built the lake? Perhaps the boat manufacturer who built the boat to create that wake?

Ric
07-24-2006, 01:15 PM
install that bad boy ump, you only have about another week of summer there right?

drop it in, square it up and then if anyone asks, you say,"I don't know who owns the course, but we'd love to meet them. We just love skiing it!"

east tx skier
07-24-2006, 01:20 PM
Thanks for all the info and keep it coming!!:) See thats just the thing, with civil law, anybody can sue anybody for anything. Just because we formed a non profit club, and joined USA waterski, that still doesnt prevent John Q. Idiot from hiring the lawfirm of Scrue, Finigle, and Finagle to name ME in a lawsuit. Even though its a club, individuals can still be sued. Civil law is way different than criminal law. I just want to be protected in case something happens. I am by no means rich, thats why I am concerned, I gotta protect what little I have worked for.

This isn't legal advice, but I've heard of folks starting corporations and letting the corporation own the course. They, of course, follow all corporate formalities.

#47of100TeamMC
07-24-2006, 01:53 PM
Sort of a thread jack, but along the same lines with the permanent course topic.

What about fisherman? do you guys that have the sinkable courses on public lakes have issues with fisherman snagging the line and cutting or pulling it up? or no fisherman where you ski? (wouldn't that be nice!)

jmac197
07-24-2006, 02:06 PM
This isn't legal advice, but I've heard of folks starting corporations and letting the corporation own the course. They, of course, follow all corporate formalities.


We're working to that end. Just have to accumulate enough $ to handle the paperwork.

We also have the advantage of using the same floating permit that has been active for over 20 years. A course has been there many, many years. The course is also in an area where there is a bunch of sunken logs. That keeps the wally's away. The average boater doesn't know where the safe areas are, so they stay away.

Later
Jim

east tx skier
07-24-2006, 03:25 PM
We're working to that end. Just have to accumulate enough $ to handle the paperwork.

We also have the advantage of using the same floating permit that has been active for over 20 years. A course has been there many, many years. The course is also in an area where there is a bunch of sunken logs. That keeps the wally's away. The average boater doesn't know where the safe areas are, so they stay away.

Later
Jim

Where our course is is surrounded by stump fields. What most people don't know (that the area around our course is, in fact, free of stumps) won't hurt us. :)

Ric
07-24-2006, 04:39 PM
someone put in a fixed (to the bottom) slider rail near the local "public" slalom course here the last year I skiid the "public" course... talk about liability....

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-24-2006, 05:22 PM
Ric, I do tie the back end of the boat while trailering. and I dont tie down my ampfliiers while wearing leather pants heading to gigs!:D

Lakey, the reason I am doing this is, guilt doesnt matter or acdepting blame. The fact of the matter is, any goofball can sue anyone for anything, and there are tons of ambulance chasing attorneys more than eager to get the job done. Call me a worry wort, but I dont want to put myself into a potential situation where I could get my arss sued off. Anything COULD happen. SOme kid could get caught swimming in it, a kid could get thrown off a jetski going through it. Sky is hte limit. The thing is, nobody uses them around here, so the curiosity factor is going to be high. people are going to want to know what hte he11 it is, and there are gonna be checking it out. I dont antisipate problems. but neither do other people who get sued.

Ric
07-24-2006, 05:24 PM
tie that amp down ump

if you have an accident and that amp becomes a projectile, you could be sued

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-24-2006, 05:28 PM
tie that amp down ump

if you have an accident and that amp becomes a projectile, you could be sued
That Amp happens to weigh 106 lbs!!! If it gets moving, LOOK OUT!!!:D

phecksel
07-25-2006, 12:37 PM
Just to play devil's advocate what exactly are little rubber balls filled with air going to do to cause injury? I know people sue for all sorts of things but, the only real thing I can think of is if someone running an outboard through it and hits a stainless steel mainline and is thrown from the boat or the engine is ripped from the transom or something like that. Would a skier who is "injured" while running the course not be subject to the same injury while free skiing? I am unsure why anyone would have this insurance, it seems that by buying into this insurance thing that you are accepting blame already for any incident. I guess you could hit a buoy and break a leg on the fall, but are you not taking the same risk while free skiing? Aren't you just as likely to hit a stick floating in the lake? Or a milk jug that a fisherman has set up? I don't see that the buoys or lines that they are attached to are an inherent danger.

Why wouldn't your personal health insurance cover any injuries?
If you injure yourself hitting the wake of another boat are you going to sue the boat driver of the other boat? Perhaps the Army Corp of Engineers who built the lake? Perhaps the boat manufacturer who built the boat to create that wake?

the stick isn't collectable :)

Set up a scenario, somebody skiing, gets tangled in the turn ball, falls and breaks their neck. Ball is not a natural occuring object, it caused the fall, so somebody has to pay.

I flew as a private pilot and ran a charitable organization that transported indigent patients for free. Paid little more the cursory attention to lawsuits and aviation. One of my favs
Pilot was towing a glider
Pilot was flying a 1940ish plane
Airport manager forbid glider operations {violating federal law}
Aircraft owner removed front seat (pilot sat in back)
Installed camera mount in place of seat, with camera looking backwards
Airport manager pulled a van across the runway
Pilot took off anyway

Want to guess who the pilot's spouse sued {he was a vegatable} and how much she won?

Go ahead, guess

WRONG

The airplane mfg was sued and had to pay 40 million, because they failed to install shoulder belts in the plane when it was built in the 40's.

jmac197
07-25-2006, 01:07 PM
the stick isn't collectable :)

Set up a scenario, somebody skiing, gets tangled in the turn ball, falls and breaks their neck. Ball is not a natural occuring object, it caused the fall, so somebody has to pay.

I flew as a private pilot and ran a charitable organization that transported indigent patients for free. Paid little more the cursory attention to lawsuits and aviation. One of my favs
Pilot was towing a glider
Pilot was flying a 1940ish plane
Airport manager forbid glider operations {violating federal law}
Aircraft owner removed front seat (pilot sat in back)
Installed camera mount in place of seat, with camera looking backwards
Airport manager pulled a van across the runway
Pilot took off anyway

Want to guess who the pilot's spouse sued {he was a vegatable} and how much she won?

Go ahead, guess

WRONG

The airplane mfg was sued and had to pay 40 million, because they failed to install shoulder belts in the plane when it was built in the 40's. Now that just pi$$es me off. Believe it or not I don't blame the lawyers. They're just businessmen playing by the rules layed out by the judges that liberally interpret the laws. 75% of these lawsuits should never get to courts. They should be thrown out by the judges as stupid, then the lawyers would start playing by the "new" rules.

Sorry for venting....it just irritates the crap out of me.

Sheesh

Later
Jim

Ric
07-25-2006, 01:26 PM
all BS aside ump, the point is that there is no way you can foresee all the things you might be sued over...

true story, I flipped an suv when I was a kid and the ~80lb speaker enclosure of 2 tens which was sitting of it's own weight in back was found about 50 feet from the vehicle when the smoke cleared:o

Upper Michigan Prostar190
07-25-2006, 02:25 PM
See thats the kind of thing I am trying to protect myself against. Like I say, I dont own much, so I have to protect what I have. I want to know more about this....

ski36short
07-25-2006, 04:49 PM
UMP, I doubt the local yooper DNR types have much exposure to slalom course permits up there. I'll bet they ask if it's for the ice or the water! Either way, they're pretty combative about it down here. Once upon a time at the Detroit Boat Show I asked a couple DNR officers what was required for a permit - they just kinda sneered at me as if to say "good luck kid". Then they asked what lake and I said "Erie" and all of their prepared arguments (noise, lake size, etc.) couldn't even be used... Superior has got to be much of the same! Unfortunately I don't know about liability. I do know they consider it a "navigational hazard" (LOL) that the public must be protected from, etc., etc.

Good luck with it. You could be the man that gets to proclaim that you hold the lake record for slalom on the biggest freakin lake in the world!