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Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-21-2010, 6:41 AM Reply   
Does anyone have, or know of where to get, a generic(boat related at least) release form that guests could sign when coming on the boat? Thank you.
Old    Baitkiller (baitkiller)      Join Date: Jan 2010       07-21-2010, 6:57 AM Reply   
Not worth the paper. If you are found negligent your ass will get sued regardless of any contract. It may not even be the passenger who sues you. It could be their insurance carrier surrogating for damages and medical costs.
This is the world in which we live.
Old    Brian Ferrell (0klahoma_Breakdown)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-21-2010, 7:01 AM Reply   
My boss has one of those double jetski engine bowriders and recently had a girl stumble in the bow and knock out several teeth on the grab rail. $8k later and her insurance is only covering $1000. Not sure why that is but anyway they are having to pay at least part of the remainder cost and the boat insurance is not helping either.
I assumed my insurance covered these types of events but apparently unless you strike something else you are not??
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 7:14 AM Reply   
Never own anything but your house in your own name. Create an LLC for everything else...
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-21-2010, 7:21 AM Reply   
I understand it's limitations, I just want to have some documentation
Old    Adam Curtis (acurtis_ttu)      Join Date: May 2004       07-21-2010, 7:47 AM Reply   
From what I've been told, those stmts are worthless. I agree with baitkiller. waste of paper.

try calling/searching for wakeboarding school waivers if you really want something.
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 8:00 AM Reply   
I think the waiver just puts a target on your head for liability. Put your boat in an LLC and get a general liability or umbrella policy, they are generally less than $400/yr.
Old    Trace (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-21-2010, 8:21 AM Reply   
I'm not a lawyer, but I've had a couple LLC's and I don't think it's worth the hassle. You have to have a lawyer set it up ($500+), and deal with it yearly at tax time. If your boat is owned by an LLC and you were to get sued, the ultimate recourse is that you lose your boat as the only company asset available to liquidate to pay damages, and you could still be sued personally for negligence.

IMO it's best to just keep your insurance paid and your limits high. An umbrella policy is a good idea for anyone with any significant net worth.

Plus, I would probably just find someone else to ride with if I had to sign a waiver. Boating has many inherent risks, but why do it if you're not relaxing and having a good time?
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-21-2010, 8:29 AM Reply   
Boat is always about fun. Most private lakes have you sign a waiver, and I gladly do that for use of the lake. This is more for the friends of friends, friends' girlfriends who want to come out and learn. There are many inherent risks, of which, I would like to have an informed and signed release for those guests I that are newer to the boat/skiing. Thanks for all the input, hopefully someone will have a link to something available, as much as I would like, I am not going LLC at this time.
Old    AtTheLake (bmartin)      Join Date: Jan 2007       07-21-2010, 8:41 AM Reply   
If you have some assets or an income stream that an ambulance chasing attorney would find worth going after, get an umbrella liability policy. They are about $250/yr for a million in coverage.
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 9:25 AM Reply   
If you really want to go that route then here you go...

Wakeboard Liability Release Form

Lots to choose from...

BTW, Trace, you are wrong about the LLC ,it's very hard to pierce the corporate vale, that's what it's for. Been there, done that! You don't need a lawyer either, it costs you about $75 to set up and my account charges me $Zip or $Nadda at tax time!
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-21-2010, 9:26 AM Reply   
If you are individually negligent, having the boat in the LLC doesn't matter -- the injured party sues you for being negligent, not the boat for being a boat. Putting the boat in an LLC is a waste of time and money.

Like others have stated, you can't contract away your duty to not be negligent. So if you are negligent and someone gets hurt, waiver doesn't matter. Where a waiver might help is if the person gets hurt while participating in a dangerous activity... say skiing or wakeboarding. The waiver could detail the potential outcomes (injury, drowning, death), and if the individual decides to participate anyway, then he or she has arguably "assumed the risk." Of course, again, that assumes that you aren't also negligent.
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-21-2010, 9:26 AM Reply   
Not really on point at all, but here's the sort of waiver you'd have to sign to participate in an amateur bike race:

http://www.usacycling.org/forms/rider_release.pdf
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 9:40 AM Reply   
Quote:
Shawndoggy (shawndoggy) Join Date: Nov 2009 Today, 9:26 AM Reply Quick Reply
If you are individually negligent, having the boat in the LLC doesn't matter -- the injured party sues you for being negligent, not the boat for being a boat. Putting the boat in an LLC is a waste of time and money.
The big part of your statement assumes that someone is suing you because YOU ARE negligent, in my case I was not negligent at all.

A couple years ago I witnessed crash between a jet ski and Sea Ray. The girl on the jet ski ended up dying in my arms. I rushed over to her and pulled her out of the water, gave her first aid and CPR until the sheriff arrived. Her parents sued everyone present, including me and the three other people on my boat. We were not found personally liable of anything. They also sued the owner of all the boats, including my LLC, two private parties, and the Marina Club because they had two boats with members that also witnessed the event. The jury basically felt sorry for the girls family because they couldn't even afford her funeral and awarded them a settlement of $100K. My LLC was not included in the judgement because it had no assests, I was upside down in the boat. This case ended up going to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and was upheld.

If they were able to pierce the corporate vale, which they tried, they could have easily found enough money for the judgement.
Old    Trace (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-21-2010, 9:47 AM Reply   
If you are negligent or not, you can still be sued. You probably won't actually lose the case... eventually... but it will still be expensive and time consuming.
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-21-2010, 10:00 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIngram View Post
The big part of your statement assumes that someone is suing you because YOU ARE negligent, in my case I was not negligent at all.

A couple years ago I witnessed crash between a jet ski and Sea Ray. The girl on the jet ski ended up dying in my arms. I rushed over to her and pulled her out of the water, gave her first aid and CPR until the sheriff arrived. Her parents sued everyone present, including me and the three other people on my boat. We were not found personally liable of anything. They also sued the owner of all the boats, including my LLC, two private parties, and the Marina Club because they had two boats with members that also witnessed the event. The jury basically felt sorry for the girls family because they couldn't even afford her funeral and awarded them a settlement of $100K. My LLC was not included in the judgement because it had no assests, I was upside down in the boat. This case ended up going to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and was upheld.

If they were able to pierce the corporate vale, which they tried, they could have easily found enough money for the judgement.
If you are not negligent, you are not legally liable. So yes, I have assumed that someone is taking one of these actions (waiver, boat in LLC, whatever) to avoid or shield themselves from potential liability.

Need many more facts to understand your case. You say they sued you individually. I think I can can also assume that it was eventually determined that you were not personally liable? Or did your personal insurance kick some money in too?

But I'm confused about your boat/LLC. Was it was determined somehow that there was liability against your boat (independent of your individual liability (or lack thereof)), but your boat was an empty well, so could not be pursued? Not sure I get how your boat could be liable when you weren't.

Sounds interesting and would love to get a better handle on your story.
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 10:16 AM Reply   
In short I was sued personally in criminal court and the case was dismissed very early on. In Civil court they sued the LLC. Since the LLC had no assests and no book value they dropped the suit against my LLC and went after the other owners. The other owners lost and appealed and lost again. They may have dropped the lawsuit against the LLC because they new it was me and I was the only one that helped, but either way they saw that the owner had no money and I walked away whole! Several of the other owners were also not found responsible in criminal court, but were found liable in civil court.

Last edited by SamIngram; 07-21-2010 at 10:22 AM.
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-21-2010, 10:31 AM Reply   
Seems like a very strange strategic decision from the plaintiff's perspective to not pursue you individually in the civil case. Had the plaintiff done that (again, boats aren't liable, their operators are), I don't see how having a boat in an LLC helps anything.
Old    Trace (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-21-2010, 11:12 AM Reply   
Negligence could also mean a lot of things for a boat owner from a legal standpoint: ballast, having one beer, teaching a beginner how to get up on a wakeboard, ......

Also, in Texas an LLC is not that simple. You have to have written articles of incorporation. Even just the fee from the State is $150 or so.
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 12:24 PM Reply   
Nothing is fool proof, but if you value your wealth, and the value of your estate for your kids, family, etc... you throw up as many road blocks and obstacles as you can against the money hungry ambulance chasers. When the average boat costs $50K and and the average wakeboarding accident runs in the thousands, I'm not really worried about paying a small fee for a lawyer to set my estate up for me. The original poster was getting to the point of how to avoid liability, and I assume lawsuits, and proper estate planning is the only way and an umbrella policy helps. I own nothing but my house which is covered by the Homestead Act.
Old    Baitkiller (baitkiller)      Join Date: Jan 2010       07-21-2010, 12:27 PM Reply   
Well spoken Sam.

I need to get my affairs in order soon.
Old    Rob Flaherty (mc_x15)      Join Date: Jul 2008       07-21-2010, 12:32 PM Reply   
So what you saying Sam, the people around who were just witnesses and tried to help got sued and lost? Seems crazy. I bet youll never stop to help someone again. The court system in this country is so screwed up.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-21-2010, 12:34 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIngram View Post
If you really want to go that route then here you go...

Wakeboard Liability Release Form

Lots to choose from...

BTW, Trace, you are wrong about the LLC ,it's very hard to pierce the corporate vale, that's what it's for. Been there, done that! You don't need a lawyer either, it costs you about $75 to set up and my account charges me $Zip or $Nadda at tax time!
Thank you. I had done that exact thing, but the best one seemed to the the WWA one, the others are more or less ski schools', and I figured the WWA factored the signee being a member.

I'm glad this brought some good discussions as well.

Like I said, I'm not trying to ruin the fun and what not, but with branching out and getting new people to learn and get into it, I see a greater possibility and need for protection.
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-21-2010, 12:36 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by mc_x15 View Post
So what you saying Sam, the people around who were just witnesses and tried to help got sued and lost? Seems crazy. I bet youll never stop to help someone again. The court system in this country is so screwed up.
I wondered the same thing. How are witnesses held liable? Because they didn't stop it?
Old    Trace (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       07-21-2010, 12:54 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamIngram View Post
Nothing is fool proof, but if you value your wealth, and the value of your estate for your kids, family, etc... you throw up as many road blocks and obstacles as you can against the money hungry ambulance chasers. When the average boat costs $50K and and the average wakeboarding accident runs in the thousands, I'm not really worried about paying a small fee for a lawyer to set my estate up for me. The original poster was getting to the point of how to avoid liability, and I assume lawsuits, and proper estate planning is the only way and an umbrella policy helps. I own nothing but my house which is covered by the Homestead Act.
+1 well said.
Old    jkw (lakesurfer)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-21-2010, 12:56 PM Reply   
waiver are worthless. I just picked up a $2M umbrella policy and need to look into better estate planning
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 1:08 PM Reply   
I will see if I can find the case, since it went to the 9th circuit I think it is somewhere on the net. I don't remember the exact language used in the judgement, but basically since these people were there and were part of the nearby lake traffic at the time, they were part of what caused the problem.

I will gladly stop to help people in the future.

As far as liability and the LLC goes, the best way that I can put it is by the old marriage prenup. story:

A young guy is getting married, he makes $30K a year working part time on the manufacturing line at Intel and going to school. His dad tells him that he should get a prenup. He says, but dad, I only make $30K a year and don't have any assets. The following plays out:

He gets married without the prenup, graduates from school, and goes full time at Intel making $60K a year. Two years later he is making $75K, plus benefits for him and his wife, a year by working hard and good fortune.

He then gets a divorce. The judge decides that his ex-wife is partially responsible for his advancement at work. She is awarded 40% of his salary in alimony. He is left with $45K a year and has to pay the taxes on his GROSS salary. After paying child support and taxes he is left with less than $18K a year to live on.

This is a TRUE story and the guy now lives with three other guys in a 895 SF apartment with two other divorced engineers!

WHEN POSSIBLE CYA!!!
Old    A-dub (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       07-21-2010, 1:13 PM Reply   
why do facilities have them then? Insurance?
Old    SamIngram            07-21-2010, 1:23 PM Reply   
Just another road block...
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-21-2010, 1:38 PM Reply   
Sam, I don't understand how you guys that simply helped, in no way involved in the accident, were subject to litigation. I know you reside in Arizona, and you guys are covered by Good Samaritan Laws (not every state is covered by this law, so check your particular state or country):

"Arizona has a Good Samaritan law which is contained in Arizona Revised Statutes 32-1471. The law provides that any person who renders aid at the scene of an emergency is not liable for any damages as a result of an act or omission so long as the care was provided: 1) in good faith; 2) for no money or other consideration; and 3) the person was not grossly negligent. If these conditions are met there will be no liability for any problems that arise."

The cases against you and the other parties that were not directly involved should have been dismissed. I would be curious how any damages were awarded.
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-21-2010, 1:45 PM Reply   
Sam, who owns the membership interests in your LLC? If it's you, and your assets are subject to execution if there's a judgment entered against you, what keeps the judgment creditor from executing on your LLC membership interests and getting to your upside down boat that way?

A-dub, it's for the reason I outlined above -- informed consent. If a rider is injured because a rogue roller takes him out, but the waiver informed the rider of the possibility of rogue rollers, there's an argument that the rider assumed that risk. Insurance companies generally will require these types of liability waivers as well, as part of a risk mitigation program that the insurance company requires as a condition of issuing a commercial liability policy.

Sam and I are going to have to respectfully disagree about whether the best use of a few hundred dollars a year is to drop assets into LLCs or buy insurance. Personally, for tort liabilities (i.e. getting sued for negligence), insurance is a far more powerful way to shield personal assets than a limited liability company. There are times when an LLC (in conjunction with insurance) can make sense (though I'm still struggling to figure out when it would make sense to drop a boat into an LLC, where the owner of the LLC would also be the primary operator of the boat).
Old    TigeMike (chpthril)      Join Date: Oct 2007       07-21-2010, 2:04 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by wake77 View Post
Sam, I don't understand how you guys that simply helped, in no way involved in the accident, were subject to litigation. .
Shotgun approach..........pull the trigger and pepper everyone. Someone is bound to bleed heavily.

It's rarely about justice or indemnification, but purely about who has the deepest pockets.
Old    mojo            07-21-2010, 3:05 PM Reply   
someone explain an umbrella policy to me. does that cover the boat or just incase you get sued for something?
Old    Scott (scotthons)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-21-2010, 3:20 PM Reply   
An umbrella policy covers in excess of your primary insurance policies. It is for catastrophic type events. Because of your negligence if you caused a major accident of some sort and your boat, auto, home owners or whatever it was did not provide enough coverage then your umbrella would kick in. It helps protect your assets and future income in a tragic event.
Old    jkw (lakesurfer)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-21-2010, 3:22 PM Reply   
You generally have to up all of car/boat/house insurance to a minimum standing of $250K/$500K. If you have an accident or get sued for something that is not covered through these policies your umbrella policy will kick in. Umbrella policy are cheap. I got $2M for $475/year.
Old    Bill K (bill_airjunky)      Join Date: Apr 2002       07-21-2010, 3:39 PM Reply   
Umbrellas are nice in that they can protect in a variety of situations, ie; someone is hurt behind your boat, in your boat, walking down your front steps, falls in your kitchen, as a passenger in your car, golf cart, ATV, etc.
And if your sued, many times the insurance company will kick in for an additional lawyer to protect their asset (whatever they might owe in a loss).
Old    Jonathan Bay (john211)      Join Date: Aug 2008       07-21-2010, 4:28 PM Reply   
Like them or not, release forms are in vogue. I just recently bought a Murray Jet Pilot CGA life vest and the invoice had the back-side printed with a full page of liability disclaimers in fine print. The basics of the warnings were this. "If you don this vest on a dock, you should gingerly walk yourself to shore, and do not enter the water. Do not expect this vest to save your life if you dip into the water. To be safe, stay on shore."

It was crazy. And it was from a good store.

That form of contract binding the purchaser is called an adhesion contract. The first test of its viability would be, was it willfully entered or simply foisted on the purchaser? If viable, it is reasonable for the contemplated uses of the product? And so on.

Whoever said, beefed up insurance was a good idea, sounds about right.

Forming an LLC in most states surely can be done without a lawyer. The more particular forms such as Articles of Organization can be modeled after numerous models found on the Internet. Most models will also contain provisions needless to a particular circumstance and omit other provisions pertinent to a particular circumstance.

The bookeeping and tax reporting chores are not miniscule. (My accountants do mine at I'd guess between $1,000 to $2,000 annually).

The "veil" is more readily "pierced" for sole member LLC's which function like an "alter ego" of the sole member rather than plural member LLC's which function like a legitimate risk-pooling enterprise.

The LLC's assets are always vulnerable while personal assets of the individual members should be reasonably sheltered -- absent any personal malfeasance.
Old    George Aslinger (mobv)      Join Date: Jun 2002       07-21-2010, 4:47 PM Reply   
In Tennessee it cost $300/yr for an LLC plus the LLC would have to pay property tax on a boat where an individual would not. Insurance would be cheaper. I believe an LLC must also be "in business" with intention to make a profit so you have to file a income tax return on the LLC.
Old    Brant Williams (kitewake)      Join Date: Jul 2007       07-25-2010, 11:48 PM Reply   
George,

There is a trick to that. Read the book "How to be Invisible". It tells you how to set it up. If I recall...you get a Tax ID number...which is required in order to do much with the LLC. Get the assets in it, get the insurance...then cancel the Tax ID number....or something like that...
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-26-2010, 7:08 AM Reply   
Riiiiiiggggghhhhht..... because the only way to get sued nowadays is if you have a valid tax id number.

Whoever is selling you the "trick" also has a bridge in NYC that you might be interested in.
Old    Tallredrider (talltigeguy)      Join Date: Sep 2003       07-26-2010, 12:03 PM Reply   
It always scares me to know that I am taking some kids on my boat who are too poor or whose parents are too cheap to buy insurance. I can think of lots of injuries that are not 'serious' but would easily run up 10K in medical bills.

Although they would all talk about how they would never sue me, I think the tune changes once the bills come in.

I try and be safe, but there are risks inherent in these activities.

I am surprised that the LLC works out for some of you guys. My accountant says that if a business loses money 3 years in a row, then the IRS declares it a hobby and you can't write off any of it...and I am sure the attorneys would pierce it that way as well. The $20 I receive from an occasional riding buddy is not going to balance the sheet on my boat by any means.
Old    mojo            07-26-2010, 12:35 PM Reply   
if you've got kids who aren't established in life just put the boats in their name so if they got sued they don't have anything to take.
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-26-2010, 3:46 PM Reply   
TTG -- whether it works as a "business" for IRS purposes is separate and distinct (sort of) from whether the entity is validly existing for state law purposes. I say "sort of" because if the entity doesn't really "do business" (the IRS question), there's probably a better argument that the entity is the alter ego of the member and that it should be disregarded for liability purposes.

But what ALL of that misses is that if YOU are captaining the boat and somebody gets hurt because YOU mess up, it doesn't matter who owns the boat.... you can be sued for your own individual negligence.

RM -- that only works as long as the kids are also the operators of the boat. No matter who owns the boat, if you are at the helm when something bad happens, you are potentially liable. Shoot, even it's your buddy's boat... if you are driving when something bad happens, and you are at fault (i.e. negligent), you are potentially liable, even though you legitimately have no economic interest in the boat.

What gets me in this discussion is that the same people who are advocating the shady liability avoidance techniques (none of which would actually work IMHO) are the same ones complaining about how terrible the legal system is, etc.
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       07-26-2010, 10:15 PM Reply   
I'm pretty sure that ChattWake is a lawyer, maybe we can get him to chime in.

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