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Old 28-08-2013, 20:20   #1
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Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Hi all,

I am participating in this year's Baja-Haha in October, and just signed the skipper's liability waiver for the organization that runs it (Latitude 38). I am taking three crew with me, one being my son, Kyle. Should I have the other two members also sign a liability waiver to protect me as skipper/owner?

I know it sounds weird, but people do weird things in times of crisis. If we run afoul on the cruise, do I need to be protected?

I welcome all comments, positive and negative.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 28-08-2013, 20:43   #2
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

A liability waiver might not hurt but will give you only limited protection. The problem is you cannot waive responsibility for negligence so if you, as captain, make a stupid mistake that causes injury to someone on your boat, a waiver signed by the crew member will be worthless.
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Old 28-08-2013, 20:53   #3
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Thanks Skipmac. While I agree that a waiver will not protect me from obvious blunders, I was hoping more along the lines of an "act of nature" type of thing, like hitting a whale, rogue wave, etc.

Thanks, Bill
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Old 29-08-2013, 02:23   #4
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by montenido View Post
I welcome all comments, positive and negative.

Cheers, Bill
Leaving aside any legal benefit from the waiver (likely marginal, if any), IMO it all serves a practical purpose as makes folks think and to mentally accept that what they are about to do is not Disneyland safe (some folks do have unrealistic expectations about most things ) - the benefit of that acceptance is less likely to reach for a lawyer when a toe gets stubbed, or worse. Doesn't prevent it!, but IMO makes it less likely.

Obviously if the Skipper is a moron it won't prevent folks (rightly!) taking action against him if he does cause folks harm by own stupidity (IMO that is where the principal Risk Management occurs - Skipper doing good).

Might also want to include in the waiver acceptance for insuring own belongings and self / healthcare / having the right visa etc and to accept that they are crew (not a passenger or Skipper!)...again, that mostly about making folks think.
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Old 29-08-2013, 05:32   #5
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by montenido View Post
Thanks Skipmac. While I agree that a waiver will not protect me from obvious blunders, I was hoping more along the lines of an "act of nature" type of thing, like hitting a whale, rogue wave, etc.

Thanks, Bill
I asked this same question when I was asked to sign a very comprehensive waiver before taking advanced SCUBA classes. Basically the waiver indemnified the instructor from anything and everything except first degree murder of the students.

So asked a couple of lawyers (my father and a friend so it was free advise and you know what free advise is worth) and both said about the same things.

1. The waiver would demonstrated that the person signing was informed and aware of "normal" risks associated with the situation.

2. The waiver would not indemnify the instructor (or captain) against negligence.

3. Even a clear case of an injury caused by the stupidity of the student (or crew) would not prevent him/her from suing you anyway and still resulting in legal costs for the instructor/captain.

So bottom line, can't hurt to do it if you feel like it's advised in your situation. Would probably be more effective if the waiver detailed what might be normal risks, acts of God or other things beyond the control of the boat owner. I would also document somewhere like the ship's log the safety protocols and equipment on the boat and tjhe crew's orientation and training on these. Have them sign that as well but might be good to leave a copy on shore.
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Old 29-08-2013, 05:51   #6
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

montenido--i will be here until at least after christmas which is spozed to be awesome here in barra de navidad, which was named clay of christmas. ...
whales are excellent viewing during haha, and rogue waves are actually rare.
you will have a great time.

if you bring root beer we can have root beer floats at sand hotel with the monkey.....monkey gets fruits.
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Old 29-08-2013, 05:54   #7
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Bill...

As an cali expat .... I can tell you that life is different outside the welfare state... You still live in the land of the lawsuit and entitlement ...

I would BY ALL MEANS have all crew sign... Take example the Aegean accident in the Newport-Ensenada... Could be negligence, could be critical equipment failure...

Incredibly experienced skipper who's boat ran into a very big well charted island...

Anything can happen...
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Old 29-08-2013, 06:12   #8
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

I took a cruising seminar a number of years ago by the folks that put on the Caribbean 1500. A very experienced couple that were presenters said they always have crew sign a waiver. It has them acknowledge that going to sea is inherently dangerous, etc. While it might not be perfect protection against a lawsuit, it can't hurt. I would do it for any non-family crew, especially someone that I didn't know well.

I also like what Skip said about documenting the crew's training on safety protocol and equipment. In companies that I have worked for, it is always done with employees for just this reason. I think it's probably as important as the liability waiver (non lawyer opinion). McDonald's might not have paid out that big settlement if only they had told the woman that the coffee was hot before she spilled it in her lap....

Scott
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Old 29-08-2013, 06:27   #9
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Are you and the boat insured? If so, you can rely on good seamanship and a backup of insurance for unmanageable risks. Seriously doubt the waiver would get you out of much of anything. The court case might be your crews estate vs your estate.
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Old 29-08-2013, 10:08   #10
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/vPainkiller View Post
McDonald's might not have paid out that big settlement if only they had told the woman that the coffee was hot before she spilled it in her lap....

Scott
But they also might not have paid out if the coffee was normal coffee hot - and not coffee flavoured liquid steam that caused serious burns ........I mention that only because a good example that some forethought can mean that neither a bit of paper is required nor any lawsuits happening simply from the "magic" of no one getting injured because the person in control wasn't stupid .

On a boat the Skipper has most of the ability to prevent "bad luck" happening to crew - even if the price of that is not doing everything wished for ("Hey, we have a new crew who are not a fully experienced / functioning team - what can possibly go wrong?" ).
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Old 29-08-2013, 10:39   #11
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
A liability waiver might not hurt but will give you only limited protection. The problem is you cannot waive responsibility for negligence so if you, as captain, make a stupid mistake that causes injury to someone on your boat, a waiver signed by the crew member will be worthless.

You seem to know a little about this. Suppose the roles are reversed, and the captain does things right, but one of the crew drinks too much rum and then trips over a shroud, and tries to sue the captain. Assuming the captain did nothing to contribute to this (say the person smuggled the rum on, and the captain did not provide it, etc.) -- would a liability waiver protect him then?
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Old 29-08-2013, 11:12   #12
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

montenido,
I agree with Skipmac's post #5.
Especially the last para.
I would add that a separate 'crew sign on' document be used, copy to crew member, to confirm the crew have received safety, procedural and risk management instruction from you.
Keep your copy ashore if possible.
This document, properly and concisely worded, would go a very long way to demonstrating due diligence on your part and informed consent on theirs.
Cheers,
Mac
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Old 29-08-2013, 12:18   #13
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

I would not advise any crew, nor did I ever do it myself , to sign a liability wavier.

furthermore
Quote:
t has them acknowledge that going to sea is inherently dangerous,
going to sea is NOT inherently dangerous and this is an insurance companies view. Sailing does not rate , say the same as sking which is regarded by insurance companies as inherently dangerous.

dave
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Old 29-08-2013, 13:05   #14
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Re: Liability Waivers for a Cruise?

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
You seem to know a little about this. Suppose the roles are reversed, and the captain does things right, but one of the crew drinks too much rum and then trips over a shroud, and tries to sue the captain. Assuming the captain did nothing to contribute to this (say the person smuggled the rum on, and the captain did not provide it, etc.) -- would a liability waiver protect him then?
Oh no. I know very little about the whole thing. I'm an engineer and not a lawyer. Pretty much everything I learned on the subject I said in previous post. The only things I can add:

1. Based on experiences with other legal problems, anyone can sue you at any time for any reason or even no reason. Frivolous lawsuits are common. Some people sue you instead of buying a lottery ticket. Odds of winning are small but they might hit the jackpot. Some suits are filed for revenge, spite or plain meanness.

2. Even a frivolous, groundless, pointless lawsuit has a chance of winning. Might be a very, very small chance but anything goes in court. You just can't predict what a jury may do.

So my plan, make sure the crew is informed of all safety issues, safety equipment, location and how to use and documented. The odds of a drunken crew member winning a law suit I would guess to be small but in legal matters it's a crap shoot.
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