Can you be sued for leading a ride? | GTAMotorcycle.com

Can you be sued for leading a ride?

gaihosa

Well-known member
Hello,
Just wondering if you lead a ride down a chip and seal road for example and an accident occurs between two motorcycles not including yourself can you be sued/be liable?
 

kiwi

Well-known member
Im definitely no lawyer, but i would believe its possible you could be. Anyone can try and make a case, whether it will be successful in court is another matter.
 

GreyGhost

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Anybody can sue anybody for anything. As kiwis said its whether they can win that matters. I dont remembering hearing about a anyone losing such a lawsuit in Ontario (and as its civil, most wouldn't hear about the filing as news wouldnt know/care unless someone called them in).

For many reasons, I would not organize an official "ride" full of people I did not know. Either three to five well known buddies with a route, etc or if you want randoms "I am leaving from xxx at xx:xx tomorrow to head to xxx area. If anyone would like to ride a similar route, you know where to find me". Now you are a collection of random bikes, not a leader and followers. Just adds a level of abstraction if it makes it to court. Also "ride at you own pace and ability. Do not exceed those limits to keep up with me or anyone else. I dont want someone to crash into the back of me because they are being dumb".

FWIW, many GTAM rides used to be a ÷/×/show. I am surprised some of the leaders didnt have a tow truck as a sweep. People going wide into ditches, low siding because they went too hot into a corner or my favorite, crashing into the bike in front of them. Afaik no lawsuits happened as the riders took responsibility for their own stupidity.
 

Mad Mike

Well-known member
It’s not just ride organizers, all riders in groups can be fair game. Lawyers have been testing the laws lately, (like rats — if they smell bounty they’ll work at ways of getting their piece.)

Last summer I declined joining a ride with a couple of good friends because I didn’t know any others in the group AND the group had several riders go down on previous rides. My two closest riding buddies went on the ride. The organizer rode off a cliff while rounding a corner, he survived but had to help rescued and needed an air lift to a trauma center. Not cheap in the US.

The down rider did not have adequate medical ins so the accident wiped him out financially. He hired a lawyer who tried to setup a lawsuit to spread liability across the group of riders. That didn’t work so the next move was to extort fellow riders insurers to accept partial liability - settle or pay huge legal cost of fighting him. Didn’t work either, but without a legal ruling possible outcomes unknown.

My advice?

1. choose rides with folks you know and trust
2. stay away from group rides without exceptional ride captains
3. If the ride goes beyond your ability or the behaviour of other riders make you uncomfortable, peel off and finish solo
 

sburns

Well-known member
What is a chip & seal road, and why would you go there?

What if people sign a waiver, organizers not libiable etc etc...(this is what hiking groups do)
 

GreyGhost

Well-known member
Site Supporter
What is a chip & seal road, and why would you go there?

What if people sign a waiver, organizers not libiable etc etc...(this is what hiking groups do)
Crap substitute for asphalt. Municipalities like it because it is cheap and requires less maintenance than gravel. Traction is lets say interesting. When fresh it is horribly slippery. After it cures, it can feel like asphalt but if you push hard, the stones roll and it feels like gravel.

I go there because I don't care about the road surface. I am just out wandering.
 

ifiddles

Well-known member
What is a chip & seal road, and why would you go there?

What if people sign a waiver, organizers not libiable etc etc...(this is what hiking groups do)
I know of several groups that do exactly that...they will hold a safety meeting prior to the ride and have all participants sign a waiver...no safety meeting and no waiver, no riding...personally, I prefer riding alone or with my hubby when he's not working...

as for chip and seal roads, sometimes you don't have a choice...in Halton, they like to do the sideroads (e.g. SR15, SR20) every spring with it...it totally sucks when it's fresh, but eventually does get better...not my favourite roads especially when it's just been laid down...
 

nobbie48

Well-known member
Site Supporter
Feel free to take a page from the cottagers book. I don't know if anything has changed.

There used to be cottagers associations with boards of directors and VIPs etc. They planned events, small regattas Christmas in July parties and spoke up for lake issues, rights etc.

By being part of an official organization a board member could be held liable for injuries at a regatta, a libelous statement in a news letter etc. Insurance was needed and wasn't cheap.

The "Associations" are now mostly "Friends of Lake ______".

I suppose they get together over a cup of tea and say wouldn't be nice if a bunch of people got together and did something.

I don't know how the large charity rides handle the legalities but waivers and mandatory insurance would cover most mishaps.

Re the reference to chip and seal it would be common sense to advise riders of all planned road conditions so they could determine if they and their bike were up to the course. Speeds, duration, remoteness, road surfaces, 400 series, fuel, food etc.

I'm not a ride person, a couple of friends at the most. Meet to eat is more to my liking.

I could see a legal risk if someone wanted to start a power ride and did recruiting, pushed an agenda.

I was asked to make a couple of electrical test instruments for a company. Knowing they would be used by people of unknown caution or understanding I asked my lawyer how much he would charge to write a waiver form to go with the sale. Basically it was a couple of hundred for the form and $20,000.00 to research what to put in it. Needless to say the sale never happened as the items were only a grand each.
 

Gary

Well-known member
Site Supporter
If I had a dime for every bike and rider I've dragged out of a ditch / cabbage / forest / guardrail etc I'd buy a pizza.
Never got bothered by a lawsuit.
 

Trials

Well-known member
What is a chip & seal road, and why would you go there?

What if people sign a waiver, organizers not libiable etc etc...(this is what hiking groups do)
You rode on it, you just didn't know it.
Cheap township chewed up miles of it around here last fall and turned it into giant mud potholes.
Still miles of chip&seal to the south and west of here and you can really um shall we say make good time on it!
 

sburns

Well-known member
You rode on it, you just didn't know it.
Cheap township chewed up miles of it around here last fall and turned it into giant mud potholes.
Still miles of chip&seal to the south and west of here and you can really um shall we say make good time on it!
Yeah probably now I know the description. I remember a few back roads around Cambellford that looked like smaller evenly spread gravel but it didn't move, even had a yellow line in the centre, it was kinda weird.
 

justride

Well-known member
Chip and seal roads are dangerous? I thought it provided more grip because the "chip" digs into your tire more.
 

Trials

Well-known member
Chip and seal roads are dangerous? I thought it provided more grip because the "chip" digs into your tire more.
Depends how recently they laid it, it's mostly vehicle traffic that packs it down. Then with age it washboards, potholes and heaves and the township tries to fill the holes with a shovel full of cold patch which is a stupid idea. Eventually there are corners that have more shovels full of cold patch then chips&seal.
 

ReSTored

Well-known member
Feel free to take a page from the cottagers book. I don't know if anything has changed.

There used to be cottagers associations with boards of directors and VIPs etc. They planned events, small regattas Christmas in July parties and spoke up for lake issues, rights etc.

By being part of an official organization a board member could be held liable for injuries at a regatta, a libelous statement in a news letter etc. Insurance was needed and wasn't cheap.
We have a road association and a lake association at our cottage and due to potential litigation issues both have had general liability and directors issuance for years at a cost of about $1,100 per annum for each policy.

Anybody can sue you for anything and a waiver they might have signed may help you at some point but it does not prevent a lawsuit, nor does it help avoid the cost of defending a frivolous lawsuit. People don't realize that meeting with a lawyer to review the lawsuit, going through discovery and then just 1 day in court to have a bogus lawsuit dismissed can cost you $20,000 - $25,000 and there is no guarantee that the plaintiff will have funds to pay your legal expenses if the judge awards you costs. If you actually have to go through a full trial then legal costs could be $35,000- $45,000 for a 2 - 3 trial.

So yes, absolutely, if you set up a ride and someone wipes out and is injured they may elect to sue you. They'll say you were riding too fast, choose a dangerous road, had no regard for the experience of the riders, you had no training as a leader., were negligent etc ....... whatever they can to make you liable and collect off of you.
 

PrivatePilot

Ironus Butticus
Site Supporter
Chip and seal roads are dangerous? I thought it provided more grip because the "chip" digs into your tire more.
That's always been my experience on it, but hey, to each their own. There's other riders out there who are mortified of anything less than hot asphalt in August, thinking that riding in any other conditions is "taking your life in your hands".

As for liability, I belong to a RC who did have a lawsuit some time ago where the rider crashed during a group ride (through no fault of anyone else as I understand it) and then tried to sue the chapter, the road captain, a few other participants of the ride (IIRC), and the organization itself as a whole.

The suit was unsuccessful, but it did put a chill into many chapters - we saw and experienced a very noticeable drop in the willingness of many to post and lead rides, even though we are all riding amongst friends, use a standardized set of hand signals, have strict behaviour guidelines during group rides (no hooliganism, no drinking during a ride until the keys are hung up) etc.

Now we have waivers we have to get every member to sign every year....and even many years later, that chilling effect has persisted with some.
 

nobbie48

Well-known member
Site Supporter
We have a road association and a lake association at our cottage and due to potential litigation issues both have had general liability and directors issuance for years at a cost of about $1,100 per annum for each policy.

Anybody can sue you for anything and a waiver they might have signed may help you at some point but it does not prevent a lawsuit, nor does it help avoid the cost of defending a frivolous lawsuit. People don't realize that meeting with a lawyer to review the lawsuit, going through discovery and then just 1 day in court to have a bogus lawsuit dismissed can cost you $20,000 - $25,000 and there is no guarantee that the plaintiff will have funds to pay your legal expenses if the judge awards you costs. If you actually have to go through a full trial then legal costs could be $35,000- $45,000 for a 2 - 3 trial.

So yes, absolutely, if you set up a ride and someone wipes out and is injured they may elect to sue you. They'll say you were riding too fast, choose a dangerous road, had no regard for the experience of the riders, you had no training as a leader., were negligent etc ....... whatever they can to make you liable and collect off of you.
It would be nice if the lawyer that pushed forward with a frivolous suit could be sued.

If you got a judgement against the plaintiff I am told the the judgement never goes away. The plaintiff will never own a house, own a decent car, have RRSPs, collect an inheritance or keep all of his pay check. I don't know how hard it is to follow the loser and if it's worth it.
 
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Rob MacLennan

Well-known member
Moderator
Site Supporter
It would be nice if the lawyer that pushed forward with a frivolous suit could be sued.

If you got a judgement against the plaintiff I am told the the judgement never goes away. The plaintiff will never own a house, own a decent car, have RRSPs, collect an inheritance or keep all of his pay check. I don't know how hard it is to follow the loser and if it's worth it.
Lawyers can be sanctioned, by the court, for bringing frivolous actions. It's rare, but it does happen.

Anyone remember the Toronto Area Riders' Association? Want to know one of the reasons why it's no longer around? On a "spirited" ride, one of the riders went down on Hockley Road, while trying to keep up with the lead rider who was an amateur racer. Our mandate included "ride your own ride and don't get in over your head. That was stated in text on the site (I know, 'cause I made the site) and was repeated online, and on pretty much every ride. On the few rides that I led, I made sure to say that ahead of time and even stopped at the beginning of roads that had particularly technical corners, to warn people of them (and still had someone crash by ignoring my statements).

People who were on the mailing list at the time will remember this rider's comments about the lead rider having a responsibility to not get riders in over their heads. In fact the rider who led that ride gained the nickname "The General" because of the crashed rider's comments about, "A general leading his troops" with respect to that incident.

Like others have said, anyone can try to sue you for pretty much anything. In a situation like that the suit isn't likely to succeed, however, you could be financially ruined while defending against a suit, that's brought by someone who refuses to accept personal responsibility for their actions. Remember that. If you take money in relation to this sort of thing, you have a higher duty of care.
 

Trials

Well-known member
Seems simple enough (y) Keep your money, as organizers we are just a bunch of totally irresponsible people,
these are public roads you will be electing to follow us on today, if you do choose to follow ride them just as if they are public roads.
 

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