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A question for the Legal Eagles


Bugsy

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It has recently come to my notice that organisers of ride-outs in the UK are exposed to claims by anyone taking part in a ride-out and subsequently falling off their bike. It would appear to be the 'death-knell' of organised runs and a sad day indeed.

Apparently, signing an indemnity is not worth the paper its written on and insurance costs are so high as to render it unpractical.

It seems that you can't rely on 'friends' saying that they wouldn't dream of instigating a claim, as relatives have, following a serious accident, set the wheels in motion.

If anyone can shed some light on the situation in France I would be extremely grateful as should this risk be so, I will not be organising any more ride-outs.

Thanks in advance.

Gary.

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It's not as cut and dried as all that as there needs to be an intent to cause loss or damage ie. If one drives like a prat and causes ones neighbour to have an otherwise avoidable accident then I suspect there may be an element of blame apportioned and the vultures smell the lucre.

I am sure Mr Brunstrom would have liked to have made all two wheeled gatherings illegal but it's not happened here yet.

I would regard the organising of a ride out as an invitation to treat rather than an acceptance that one was organising a Chartered Tour for gain.

I think it worthwhile to state clearly that there is no profit involved and that participants are reminded that they must carry suitable insurances.

World is slowly going bonkers and as for France I am unsure whether they have a different legal slant.

I wouldn't go on a ride out with you anyhow, the possibility that we may be seen to be proceeding in a similar direction on motorcycles entirely independently of each other and may coincidentally have a jar at the end of our hypothetical days biking is surprising enough...but who were those other guys and why were they doing the same? Cue twilight zone music.....doo bee doo beee  doo beee doo beeee....

Maybe a motorcycling Masonic Lodge is called for!

 

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Gary.  I can't comment on the situation in France but I know someone (yes, I know these comments usually relate to "someone that someone knows"). He led a rideout up in Scotland. There was an accident and one of the riders injured. The guys insurance company got to hear that it was an organised rideout and went after the organiser.  The guy who was injured wasn't, himself, blaming the organiser but the insurance company saw an opportunity to go after someone.

Bottom line is that there was real saga but fortunately the organiser  had the support of either MAG or BMF and managed to fight it. It's a real minefield.

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Hi Guys - I am a solictor duel qualified in England & Wales and also Scotland - unfortunately not France so I can only deal with those two jurisdictions. I also deal pretty well exclusively with Personal Injury matters  so perhaps I can shed some light (please note legal disclaimer - my opinion only and cannot be taken as formal legal advice).

I believe that Big Mac may be looking at it from a contractual point of view - the liability would not arise particularly through (or despite) any contractual obligation, but through Tort (in Eng/Wales) or Delict (In Scotland).

I have recenlty settled a case where the injured person was on an organised ride - as it happens a HOG rideout - and the person with whom he collided (actually drove him off the road, was also a member. The claim was brought against the rider NOT the organiser - in fact part of the claim was based upon the rider failing to comply with the "rules" of the rideout in his method of overtaking, although actually that argument was worth little.

Quite simply - the rules of the road apply - if the negligent rider was driving negligently then it is his/her fault and not the organisers - the only way I would particularly go after an organiser is if he had been negligent - for instance (and by way of exageration) by taking the rideout somewhere obviously unsafe (a blasting quarry???!!!) or down an unsafe highway etc.

If common sense is applied and no unsafe practice than I (as one of those horrible lawyers) can think of very little that could be laid at the door of any formal organiser, and even less at the door of someone who said to a few friends "lets go out for a ride together".

There are European Motor Directives which are bringing EU countries in line so I see no reason why, in principle, the same comments should not apply in France, albeit within the applicable French laws.

 

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Well I bow to your professional experience in this Josa, but it goes against all of the things that have happened in the climbing and potholing world, where full third party liability insurance has become de-rigour for all non-profit organised club events as well as non-organised events using any part of the club's equipment (even a compass).
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Josa

The situation in France is broadly similar and is covered by the civil code.

To establish liability, it must be shown that the defendant acted in breach of a statutory duty or the rules of conduct derived from the general principle of neminem laedere (do no harm) and that he failed to exercise the degree of care expected of the reasonable man in the particular circumstances.

French courts use the concept of acceptance of risks to prevent the victim from claiming for injuries where no fault has occurred. Accordingly, there is a “neutralisation” of any strict liability because of the acceptance of risk and hazard, eg by competitors in sporting events - or even rideouts.

In terms of claims for accidents during a rideout, the 1985 Loi Badinter provides for a no fault regime for road traffic injuries and all French motor policies include compulsory personal injury cover.

Bernard, my tame Royal Enfield importer and long established organiser of vintage bike meets has assured me that provided a rideout of 'amis' involves no more than 20 bikes (Loi de 1955) and has no competitive element, then no additional third party liability insurance is required.

 

 

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SD - we have a similar concept of "Volenti non fit injuria" (a volunteer cannot claim for injury) in England - so provided the organisor did nothing unexpected  - ie not what you were volunteering for - this is a starting point.

I was not aware of the French no fault regime for RTA's  - but the "do no harm" is reflected in our Tort and Delict laws - I believe the general principals are very similar throughout the EU, with small differences in wording or procedure such as time limits and sometimes what losses you can actually claim for.

ANDYH4 - of course insurance is a must for any organising body - I act as legal officer for a county Rugby Union and also a Rugby Club and I am well aware of the possiblity of claims against such bodies - but I repeat - a successful claim can only procede where you are shown to be negligent - whilst you have all to have insurance I wonder how many successful claims there have actually been? - I don't mean claims being made - there are a lot of "chancers"  who read about a compensation culture and want to get on the bandwagon - they are the ones who give me a bad name (Shakespeare - first we are going to kill all the lawyers!!) - but the claims are not going to win -  I can recall one successful claim involving a climber in a sports centre and as far as I recall it was because the wrong safety matting was put down - I can also recall one recent unsuccessful case in similar circumstances where the climber landed heavily - brought a claim but there was no negligence - it was his own fault and so no chance of winning - I cannot think of any other reported cases in climbing or potholing although some will obviously have passed me by.

My own view for what it's worth is that there has been a Health and Safety panic brought by papers like the Daily Mail who like to sensationalise reports and whip people up into thinking thay can't do anything - but which is not borne out by the facts. Just  do things responsibly and you will be OK - if you are an organising body ensure you have thought about the risk and have reasonably reduced it to a minimum - but if you do things in a reckless or dangerous manner and you open yourself up for liability.

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"or down an unsafe highway etc"

Kind of assumes that we can ascertain that a highway is unsafe..supposing the leader stops and said errant type continued in a leisurely arc from the end of the bridge that was out? Not the leaders responsibility unless he/she  demolished the mid span or removed any physical barriers or perhaps directed the ride out at the point of a gun or some such.

There is a tacit acceptance on the part of anyone purchasing protective, impact resistant, Hi viz etc clothing that the unthinkable may happen.

Third party insurance is required in any instance and my earlier jocular remark was intended to point out that we are free to come and go as we please so long as we adhere to the law of the land.

If a liability is established in that an organiser arranged hotel accommodation and as a consequence the party got flea bites then they may (If they were daft) go for the organiser, who would go for the hotel, who would go for the pest control company, who would blame next doors mangy cat, the owners of mangy cat would blame it's girlfriend ........whatever....

Well organised ride outs are often safer than riding alone if the riders are sufficiently skilled. We sometimes operate the drop off system which sees second man drop off to guide the rideout through junctions and then picks up one in front of tail end charlie this allows a lot of ground to be covered at pace and safely without fiddly sat nav or messing with maps, you only need someone who knows the route (Not neccessarily the organiser)

There is a saying that it's not the bike that's dangerous, it's the driver.....how therefore can an organiser be responsible for your positioning on the road or for what some other idiot may do?

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Big Mac - I think I am agreeing with you entirely - if the organisor has done nothing negligently unsafe the he/she has nothing to be concernd about.

BTW - the "second man drop-off" was the system that the guy in my case was NOT complying with and what was one of the basis for the claim - as I said actually in law it have very little to do with things - he just forced the victim off the road - wrong in any situation.

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[quote user="josa"]Hi Guys - I am a solictor duel qualified[/quote]Tush tush, we really should expect better from a solicitor [6]

No reason to expect it's any different for cars but my local club have been running THIS event for the past 4 years I'm not aware that they have any indemnity insurance for it.

Although it is not billed as competitive you'd never believe it !!! [:D] [:D] [:D]

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[:)][quote user="BIG MAC"]

Kind of assumes that we can ascertain that a highway is unsafe... [/quote]

Good point, Mac.  FWIW, when I was working for an organisation that organised guided walks, we always ensured that the route was walked by the walk leader a couple of days before the event, and that this fact was duly recorded.

It kinda makes sense to do this anyways; but it was, in part at least, also a defensive preparation against an accustion of, "Well, no-one told me that the path was slippery" [:)]

Cheers

Craig

P.s Thanks, Sunday Driver and Josa, for some clear guidance.

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  So Bugbear, now that you have had ample time to digest the comments of the previous posts, can I ask , are the rideouts still on or not ? Before you answer, nowhere did I see a reference to the organizer loosing two thirds of the group, How you manage to do this whilst riding a Triump I'll never understand     [:-))]         By the way,   I was also a Milk  Monitor , but with the added responsability of distrubuting not only milk but orange juice as well, from there I was promoted to a Vice Prefect----- follow that mate !     [geek]

 

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[quote user="socket"]

  So Bugbear, now that you have had ample time to digest the comments of the previous posts, can I ask , are the rideouts still on or not ? Before you answer, nowhere did I see a reference to the organizer loosing two thirds of the group, How you manage to do this whilst riding a Triump I'll never understand     [:-))]         By the way,   I was also a Milk  Monitor , but with the added responsability of distrubuting not only milk but orange juice as well, from there I was promoted to a Vice Prefect----- follow that mate !     [geek]

[/quote]

Of course but I'm no longer the organiser, merely the coordinator..................

Losing people when on my Triumph.............................., oh so easy..................... [;-)]   It'll be even harder for you now because this year I'll be using ALL the gears....[:P]

Well, obviously asking people to keep the guy behind in view doesn't work so this year everyone will be issued with a 50 metre piece of elastic on a self-retracting reel, with a pair of scissors for emergencies. [:P]

Orange juice pah!!............As head of the table I also had control of the Custard, total power [:D] No-one ever got the skin I can tell you...........[:D][:D]

edit: Thank you guys for all the contributions on this subject.

.

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[quote user="josa"]

ANDYH4 - of course insurance is a must for any organising body - I act as legal officer for a county Rugby Union and also a Rugby Club and I am well aware of the possiblity of claims against such bodies - but I repeat - a successful claim can only procede where you are shown to be negligent - whilst you have all to have insurance I wonder how many successful claims there have actually been? - [/quote]

 

It is the individuals that are required to carry the insurance - as well as the organisation.

So if I dislodge a stone (something that is almost impossible to avoid) and it falls onto a member of the public standing below - which would be pretty stupid of him, but the man on the Clapham omnibus might not realise that - he can claim against me - and there have been cases.

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