I am a BOD of our duck hunting club.
We are Incorporated. We have in our Bylaws No member can sue the club.
This has never been tested, and I hope it never will.
We also have $1,000,000 in personal injury insurance for members and guest.
A local shooter had his new Kolar T/S hit by an empty hull ejected by another shooter's autoloader that was not equipped with a shell catcher. He very loudly and repeatedly threatened to sue the offending shooter, the club, its trap chairperson and the person working the sign-up desk because they permitted the gun to be used without a shell catcher. Over the course of the following week, he came to his senses and did not pursue litigation but he could easily afford to follow through on his threat.
He continues to shoot at that club almost every week and I'm surprised that the club officers have not elected to protect themselves from another threat of legal action by asking him to either sign a waiver or not shoot there.
The Board of Directors would have to post a sign and inform "all" shooters that when operating an automatic shotgun that they "must" have a shell catcher or shell deflector so shells will not damage someone elses property or person.
The board of directors has used due diligence in warning all shooters of danger of flying shells and also required all shooters to use a shell deflector or catcher if using an automatic shotgun. In court they could agrue that they did what any "prudent" person would do to protect patrons of the club.
Another reason you should have Officers & Directors Liability Ins. BOD can be sued individually for decisions. Personally I wouldn't set on a Board without it, not in today's sue happy world. Clubs lose good people on boards because of it. I am afraid Kolar man would lose as there is such a thing as assumed risk if it is obvious.
Unfortunately, the club at which this took place is pretty far behind the curve organizationally. A few years ago, a volunteer was working on one of their Pat Traps and was struck in the jaw by a target thrown by the machine. I don't know the hows and whys of the incident, so I don't know who was to blame, if anyone. But I attended one of their monthly club meetings a few months afterward because the club was interested in joining a league I ran at the time and the subject of reimbursing the worker for his extensive dental work was brought up by a member in attendance. The secretary checked their insurance policy and found that it had a limit of $1,000 for medical expenses. As the member who made the motion said, that probably wouldn't even pay for his X-rays.
The president asked me what kind of insurance the club where I was an officer had. I gave him a brief rundown but suggested they contact our president, who was also our insurance agent and investment counsellor, for better information. They never did and, to my knowledge, their coverage is unchanged.
That is by no means a criticism of that club in particular, as many of our smaller clubs are in the same position. The club is not incorporated, the officers and directors serve voluntarily and the club is terribly under-insured. Think for a minute of the risks each club takes when it allows people off the street to discharge firearms in the presence of others in return for a few bucks in dues. In the case of this club, they are exposing the club and themselves to litigation and possible bankruptcy for about thirty dollars a year and relying on an insurance policy with a limit of $1,000 to protect them!
I'm sure not a lawyer(Thank God), but I do not see ANY by-law protecting a club from a law suit. If a plantif can prove(or get a jury to believe)there was negligence on the club's part, I doubt if a By-Law would hold up it court. The court would decide acording to STATE law. I agree with Average Ed. A club with only 1000 bucks in Insurance is taking a real risk!
YES THEY CAN BE SUED LIKE ANYTHING ELSE. That is why the board members have to have insurance for such an event. If they do not have insurance then they as members on a board have to pay out from their own pockets if what insurance does not. You can make the members sign this and that but if the club is at fault then the paper is worthless. Lets say a memebers is a known drunk. On and off the club grounds and he has been warned not to drink on club grounds and he hurts someone. He is a known problem. The problem is known to the club board. The club is in BIG TROUBLE now because the problem was known and it was not taken care of and someone got hurt by what ever means. Wavers mean nothing in alot of cases. They are there to make people think they can do nothing but they can. Each club needs to find a lawyer and and do what ever they need to to protect themselves form the courts. At both clubs that I belong to they have a lawyer who are members in the club. Don't think because the club is big and has alot of money or has this person or that person on the board or in the club that they have protection form law suits. They do not have a bulletproof vest on to protect their back sides. They can be dragged in court and can lose in court like anyone else in the USA. I'm not a lawyer either but I have been around a number of lawyers and I have heard this and that about law suits and have learned alot. Those who do not have enough insurance for the club and board members are but one and all in a hole they will not get out of if something does happen. Lets put it this way. Whats the club worth and what is the cost of insurance? I would rather pay alittle bit more in dues for insurance then LOSE WHAT CLUB I HAVE.
Ah liability and insurance issues, how I love this stuff. Unfortunately the only person that has so far been 100% right in their post was BIG DON.
You need to check with your agent and have him go over your coverage. It sounded to me like you’re not completely understanding what you have or do not have. “Personal Injury of $1mil.” I’m assuming that you’re looking at your liability declaration page that has an aggregate limit an occurrence limit, possibly a products and completed operations limit, a fire legal limit and a personal injury or personal and advertising limit. I believe that what you’re referring to would be coverage for “liable, slander, defamation, false arrest or imprisonment, etc. The way you stated it, it sounds like you’re assuming that “personal injury” covers any physical injuries to the members and officers.
All clubs should have a General Liability Policy to protect them from loses and legal expenses arising from bodily injury or property damage that is caused by the clubs (or members and officers) actions, non-actions or conditions within their control. All clubs should have Directors and officers coverage to protect them from suits brought by the members for losses caused by “miss-management”. Can the club be sued for a shell ejection issue like described above? You bet they can. Will they lose the suit? Probably not. Will they have a loss from the suit? Absolutely, the cost for an attorney to just answer the suit would be more then I would want to pay out of my pocket. The reality is that in most law suits, your insurance company will not end up paying a loss to the plaintiff, but in 100% of all law suit, they will pay out huge amounts of money in cost to fight the suit, that include lawyers and experts witnesses even if they never go to court.
Are you an attorney? I suspect so. The reason I'm inquiring is -this topic has also been bantered around at our club and I believe we are probably underprotected, as well. I would like to bring these comments to our Board so we can act on it with the knowledge we need (or should get). Thanks.
Members are not always the "owners" of the clubs and even if member owned, not all members are management. In a corporate environment, it is not unusual for shareholder lawsuits against management. The analogy you were given might sound good at first, but it really is not on point.
No I’m not an attorney but I am a commercial insurance agent and deal with these issues daily. Although I work mostly with contractors and agribusiness, I do work with several clubs and other entities that have similar issues such as homeowners associations. Although at least for now most gun clubs are going to find their best coverage for liability through the NRA. It’s vital that you know and understand what you’re insured for and what you’ve chosen to be self insured for. Unfortunately most gun clubs that are insured though niche programs that they pickup though the NRA or other association, rarely ever see an agent or are able to go over any coverage issues on a person basis and there is way to much assumption involved.
The answer to your riddle is simple. The owner of the home you talked about is the “named insured” and cannot sue himself for bodily injury or property damage cause by his own negligence. On the other hand a member of an association or club is not the named insured, they could be an insured by definition found in the policy, but an insured and named insured are two different animals. The problem with your example is that the “entity” insured can be an individual, partnership, association, corp, etc..If you own stock in Ford Motor Corp. and you have a bodily injury caused by a defective part, by your example you could not sue Ford. Do you see the difference?
It is my understanding that a person can sue even after signing a waiver. From what I remember: Under Federal Law, a person does not sign away their right to sue for negligence nor does a waiver exempt someone from liability. This is being looked at in Cal. where a lady died from water poisoning after being involved in a contest. She sighned a waiver and the attorney's are saying "SO"!