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How do you folks deal with liability?

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17 replies to this topic

#1 Araguaia

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 08:57 AM

At outreach, I take groups of teenagers to very dark places in the bush, where the risks, according to the naysayers, range from snakes to unwanted pregnancies.

 

I do everything thinking of safety first, but you can't control what kids might do.  Accidents are possible.  School teachers who are supposed to be out there with me "monitoring" sometimes don't show up, or leave early.  

 

How do you deal with the possibility of a kid doing something stupid in the dark and getting hurt, and vengeful parents possibly blaming you and suing you?



#2 Starman47

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:07 AM

If this is a school event, then do not participate if the school does not step up and do its part. If the teachers leave early, then terminate the nights activities. 


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#3 Richard O'Neill

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:08 AM

As much as possible, I avoid such situations. It's your neck, is it worth the risk?



#4 cookjaiii

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:19 AM

I wonder about this in the context of club-sponsored public star watches.   



#5 siriusandthepup

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:19 AM

I am not a lawyer.

 

My wife is a school teacher.

 

As a fellow astronomer, I recommend that YOU do not take minors on outings. Let the school plan (with your input) the outing and let them schedule/ advertise / get parental permission paperwork. This paperwork is how the school manages their liability. Now the school is responsible for student's safety.

 

You assume only the role of  "entertainment", which is as it should be.

 

I have done outreach astronomy several times for my wife. These were school planned and scheduled events. I only promised that I would show up with a telescope and educate/entertain the troops.

 

Best of luck with your outreach. It is a wonderful gift to share astronomy with those that haven't been introduced to all the marvelous things to see in our beautiful universe!

 

thanks for your efforts!  waytogo.gif


Edited by siriusandthepup, 05 March 2019 - 09:32 AM.

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#6 siriusandthepup

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:26 AM

 

I wonder about this in the context of club-sponsored public star watches.

I know that this is a different case than a public star party, but thought it was worth mentioning.

 

Major star parties will make you sign paperwork indemnifying them from liability.

 

Again, I am not a lawyer.

 

This indemnification not only absolves their liability, it basically states that YOU (the participant) assume the role of of being financially responsible for any harm to anyone or anything that happens at the event. Yes - you!


Edited by siriusandthepup, 05 March 2019 - 09:29 AM.


#7 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:31 AM

I am not a lawyer.

 

My wife is a school teacher.

 

As a fellow astronomer, I recommend that YOU do not take minors on outings. Let the school plan (with your input) the outing and let them schedule/ advertise / get parental permission paperwork. This paperwork is how the school manages their liability. Now the school is responsible for student's safety.

 

You assume only the role of  "entertainment", which is as it should be.

 

I have done outreach astronomy several times for my wife. These were school planned and scheduled events. I only promised that I would show up with a telescope and educate/entertain the troops.

 

Best of luck with your outreach. It is a wonderful gift to share astronomy with those that haven't been introduced to all the wonderful things to see in our beautiful universe!

 

thanks for your efforts!  waytogo.gif

This is sage advice     ..Like  a  DJ   or the band   you are responsible only for the sound system and music. like a guest speaker you are only responsible for the talk and your powerpoint..... you own liability should be limited to your responsibility   that is to provide the telescopes...make sure your tracking device batteries are fully charged              make sure you have remembered to bring the right eyepieces   and perhaps the normal stuff you instinctively know   like do not set up to close to  a steep hill/rock formation/cliff etc.  We should not shy away from outreach   but we should limit our exposure or all outreach will suffer



#8 Garyth64

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:36 AM

In the interacting with students, it was mentioned to our club, that anyone who does, would have to have a background check.  But, IIRC, that was only if a teacher was not present.  So far, in the last two years of doing some events for a couple of schools, we haven't had to have any checks.


Edited by Garyth64, 05 March 2019 - 09:37 AM.


#9 TimK

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 09:49 AM


Our club purchases a yearly liability policy to protect our members and guests at club sponsored events.
This provides at least some protection against injury or damage claims.
It also helps to be poor. The club has a small treasury and few assets to seize. (Lawyers don't work for free!)
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#10 bobzeq25

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:20 AM

Anyone concerned about this needs to see a lawyer.

 

Liability waivers/disclaimers are generally not fully protective.  They can be broken if things like gross negligence occur.  How is that determined?  When somebody takes you to court.

 

Example.  People at amateur racing events sign waivers.  I heard of a case where water filled barrels, intended to be protection, were not filled, and were thrown at people.  I believe the waivers did not protect the organizers from that.

 

Insurance may (or may not) be a better strategy.  I have an "umbrella liability" policy from an excellent company.

 

See a lawyer.


Edited by bobzeq25, 05 March 2019 - 10:26 AM.


#11 Starman47

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:28 AM

All good advice waytogo.gif



#12 John Gauvreau

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:41 AM

Our club purchases a yearly liability policy to protect our members and guests at club sponsored events.
This provides at least some protection against injury or damage claims.
 

Same here with our club.  We do a lot of outreach and as a club we buy insurance that covers all our events.  Totally worth it for the fun and value of doing public outreach.  We’ve never had to use it so far (thank goodness). 



#13 jaraxx

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:28 AM

As I get older this becomes more and more of a problem. As a younger person, I dealt with this problem by not having accumulated enough assets to make it worthwhile to sue me, which worked out very well. By using this strategy, the other side's lawyer could come to my aid by arguing not to sue me, as in "You don't want to sue him - he doesn't have anything."

Now that I'm older, I can afford my own lawyers which is problematic because now there are assets to protect as well as assets to pay my lawyer to protect them. As a result, everyone (except me) wants to go to court.

I've been told about the benefits of aging and the "Golden Years". Those benefits have proven pretty hard to find. On the whole, I'd just as soon be in the bushes with the other teens attempting to avoid snakes (by giving them a wide leeway) and pregnancy (by a much more narrow margin).


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#14 Araguaia

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 01:02 PM

If this is a school event, then do not participate if the school does not step up and do its part. If the teachers leave early, then terminate the nights activities. 

Yes, that is the logical thing to do.

 

However...

 

There is a reason Brazilian students rank so poorly in international tests.  Public schools and teachers are uncommitted and unreliable.  The school does officially sponsor the event, and secure parental permission forms.  But when night falls, people fail to show up.  Especially in poor, rural areas like here, the kids are constantly being disappointed, and grow up thinking that the world and the system are not for them.  X doesn't get done because we don't have Y, A doesn't show up because B didn't come.  The buck never stops.

 

I am trying to break this cycle.  

 

I know some risk is inevitable.  I guess I am looking for guidance on how to minimize it.  I am so desperate I even thought of starting a scout troop... but I am really not into uniforms and flags, just science and nature.



#15 Cajundaddy

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 01:18 PM

If you cannot depend on the school or the teachers then you probably need parent involvement and supervision.  1 parent for every (x) kids and they need to be approved by the school.  That and perhaps have yourself added to the school liability insurance as "additionally insured" so you are covered by the school not your own resources.

 

I don't know the legal climate in Brazil but in Calif. if you are not covered by the school insurance you WILL be sued by a parent for any number of reasons.


Edited by Cajundaddy, 05 March 2019 - 01:18 PM.

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#16 jaraxx

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 02:55 PM

I spent a lot of time working with poor kids here in the US, both for free and for pay. The short answer to your question is you don't worry about it too much because it comes with the territory. 

The other reason you don't worry about it is that the parents are unlikely to sue. Many of the kids who I worked with had parents that were uninvolved, sometimes due to impairment, sometimes health (mental and physical), sometimes incarceration, sometimes death. Other parents are involved to the extent they can be, but are struggling because of divorce, loss of job, health problems with kids or grandparents, fire, flood, any of the numerous events that can make one poor. These parents always have too much to do and too little time - being poor is a job and a half. Basically, a lot of the poor are appreciative for what you do, and too overwhelmed and powerless to do much about it anyway. (You should avoid the rich if you don't want to be sued - they have the resources to sue you, usually well paid, lined up and at-arms.)

My advice past the above (i.e., live with it and hope for the best... always easy advice to give) is too look for a program funded by NGO or GOV entity that can use your expertise. Then limit yourself to that expertise - that is, you don't want to be the Scoutmaster; you want to help kids qualify for an astronomy or science badge. 

As for unreliability - you might want to recruit your own team, maybe several teachers you can work with and who you know will show up, or a couple of more volunteers who will show up, or , you know, someone who will show up. Social services are much easier to provide if you have good, dependable people working with you. Kinda like everything else. 

Hope you stick with it and have very good luck

Not to mention clear sky


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#17 Starman47

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 04:10 PM

If you cannot depend on the school or the teachers then you probably need parent involvement and supervision.  1 parent for every (x) kids and they need to be approved by the school.  That and perhaps have yourself added to the school liability insurance as "additionally insured" so you are covered by the school not your own resources.

 

I don't know the legal climate in Brazil but in Calif. if you are not covered by the school insurance you WILL be sued by a parent for any number of reasons.

For what it is worth, I concur.


Edited by Starman47, 05 March 2019 - 04:11 PM.


#18 edwincjones

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Posted 15 March 2019 - 07:28 AM

no problem, UNLESS something happens

everything we do involves risk

need to evaluate benefit

 

 question.gif

 

edj




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