Opinions of Liability on group drives

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Steve Douglas
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Opinions of Liability on group drives

#1 Post by Steve Douglas » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:54 am

What is the liability of "organizing, setting up a route and destination" a group drive without any club affiliation or special event insurance? For a number of years I have organized informal drives, before the internet we used phone trees, now use emails and social media to promote them. I am thinking of past Drive Your 356 Days, where we have a group drive, or just having a group of enthusiasts taking their cars out for a run. Sometimes these are done "spur of the moment", and there is no time to involve clubs and their event insurance.
I have a friend who is involved in Mustangs, they were doing monthly non-club gatherings, with drives to parks or peoples houses for picnic or social times. It had become a tradition meet at the Ford Dealer for coffee, and bring food and drink to share. In September three cars crashed while exceeding the speed limit, now the original three who started doing these is being sued as being partially liable.
In this day and age of litigation and responsibility avoidance, any thoughts?

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Jim Liberty
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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#2 Post by Jim Liberty » Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:49 pm

I'm no longer a Trustee, but as a past one, and in charge of insurance, I can say always get the FREE coverage. The Registry was sued a few years ago by an idiot that had more time and money than brains. You, me, and the club have to defend ourselves against such people. It cost the club three years of court dates, and hundreds of thousands to defend this frivolous suit.

Fill out the form, put a stamp on the envelope, and have piece of mind. ……………...Jim.
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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#3 Post by Steve Douglas » Sat Dec 29, 2018 5:30 pm

Thanks Jim, I do know about the Registry Insurance, I understood that was for organized events for members of the Registry and local 356 Clubs. My issue is that we have people who are not members of anything, members of PCA from various regions, as well as some from the 356CAR and Registry. isn't the coverage for Registry events not "open invitation" drives. To have event coverage costs money and I don't really want to pay for it as then i would either have to ask for a fee or just eat the cost, plus we never know how many are going to show up, so how do we figure that out.
I have seen posts on the Forum about people wanting to "caravan" to events: Helen GA, Stoddard Swap, Monterey Car Week, this is similar to what I am talking about, designate a starting point and drive a set route to the event. The west coast's North South events has several groups who gather and drive en mass, some have been known to be a little bit over exuberant on the backroads, normally someone is the unofficial organizer, what is their liability? if any?

My friend's Mustang group is an easy target, most are in their 20s and 30s, drive late model Mustangs with 400+ hp., most have bad driving records, and they get together monthly. Thus when the three cars trying to catch the main group after being separated by traffic, crashed at 80+ mph on 45mph road, taking out a Honda and Toyota Tacoma, the lawyers came up with all sorts of reason that the leaders were at fault. Words like Rally, Road race, and disregard for safety came up in the complaint.
Guessing I will have to change my thinking about doing driving events.

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Jim Liberty
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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#4 Post by Jim Liberty » Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:34 pm

The fact is "Anybody can sue Anybody" for anything. The deeper the pockets, the more the incentive. The jerk that sued the registry sued the Trustees individually, and the club. We had to defend both. (Yes, he came after my retirement). The Registry insurance is for members only. You decide the need, I'm just voicing my opinion.

…………………………………...Jim.
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Mike Wilson
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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#5 Post by Mike Wilson » Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:02 pm

Seems like a question to pose to your individual insurance company. I know on organized drives at North Meets South, we sign a release form.

Jim is correct, anyone can sue for any perceived slight be it hurt feelings or a pain in the butt. However, no one is forced to go on a drive. Seems to me, if you are involved in an incident during a drive, that's between you and the other driver(s). The release form at least shields the organizing club. Perhaps any of our attorney members can comment?

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Wes Bender
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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#6 Post by Wes Bender » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:25 pm

Back when I was involved with T & D rallies, this question came up in our club. Another club had been sued after an accident on one of their events. The attorney we talked with told us that the release that we had entrants sign wasn't worth the paper it was written on. Don't know if this might still be the case, but I doubt that liability issues have become more lenient. As Mike says, check with your insurance company. Their legal people will know.
Some days it just isn’t worth the hassle of chewing through the restraints......

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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#7 Post by Brad K » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:58 am

great question - full disclosure - i'm a wa state attorney - no legal advice here, although i agree that anyone can sue anyone and releases really don't do much

- our local pca has the drives set up on motor sports.reg with more forms to fill out than applying for a mortgage - i know that pca requires all of that stuff

- on the other side of the spectrum, i'm an r gruppe member, and we don't do anymore organized drives at the annual treffen meet, due to liability concerns

- almost all of my group drives are done with local guys, set up informally, and whom i've know for many years - i can't think of a fact pattern which would make any of us liable for the group's actions - i think the best bet is to check with your insurance company and stay well insured

- here is a terrible incident from a few years back - the victim was a club member i knew through others - i don't know what happened here on the legal front - https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/ ... y-collide/

hope this helps -brad in seattle

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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#8 Post by Steve Douglas » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:59 pm

Brad, Thanks for your input, and the "RGruppe policy" you mentioned has confirmed my thoughts of liabilities of doing personally organized drives. Our local 356 groups has had insurance with 1 million coverage, no releases were required up till recent, my agent's warning is that if a person is named anywhere as an organizer, that person can be "more liable" if something goes wrong. i have a 5 million umbrella policy that may attempt to cover my risks, but there are exclusions. Up until recently we would just put the word out and meetup and drive.
"Porsche" has an image in many people's minds as a race car, one driven by irresponsible rich people, and must be at fault no matter what.
My friends who have been having a meet-up group for newer Mustangs, totally informal, and uninsured, are being sued for 3 million from one party and 1 million from the second, all because of 3 reckless drivers who were on the same drive, however 1/2 mile away from the main group. But, they were the ones who were listed as the meet-up organizers, and had been doing it for several months. They being in their 20s-30s have very little assets, no deep pockets, yet the age of the drivers and car image brings to mind the irresponsible driver.
In the past we have done a New Years Day Drive to Big Sur, along with a Ground Hog Day drive, and I have had several emails asking if the drives are on for this year. Not this year, until we can figure out how to lessen the liabilities. It would be nice to be able to announce a drive, hand out route information and all without any person being in charge, without registering in advance, making spur of the moment drives safe. I have been thinking of making up an alias email, using an unknown computer, and just see how it goes.
I like to drive my cars, and so do a lot of others, and we all feel it's nice to share the drive, finally at the end of the day talk about how it was. It isn't the end of our group drives we just have to figure out ways to do without any major issues.

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Re: Opinions of Liability on group drives

#9 Post by Greg Stout » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:40 pm

Steve.....there are several Russian servers available for your above 'alias' and unknown computer.... (kidding of course)
This is SUCH a damned shame....and is the reason so many 'events' are gone. I am wondering if, and an attorney would know....a person could just say "I think it will be a very nice day on XX/XX and I plan to enjoy it with my car by going to XXXXXX using HWY XX....but first, I will go to Starbucks in XXXXX around XXAM to get some coffee." and leave it at that. If anyone else wants to do the same....free country !!! (well, sort of) This does not seem to solicit anyone else to do the same ???? Maybe this would eliminate 'liability' for the poster ????
OK J.D.'s....speak up.
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