Liability of Charity Motorcycle Event Organizers: No Good Deed…..
Charity rides. “Poker Runs.” Events for the motorcycling community to come together, to do what they love, and to help any number of worthy, deserving causes. But given the dangers that could arise when a mass of motorcyclists hit the road, each with varying degrees of experience, ability and competency, it is essential that organizers of charity rides take steps to protect themselves – and perhaps even the charities the seek to help – from liability and exposure for damages that may result when something unfortunate and unforeseen occurs.
Insurance for the event, including coverage for the organizers and volunteers, for the ride and for events before and after the ride, must be given serious consideration. Yes, it’s expensive. But it’s just that important. Be assured that an insurance premium is much, much more affordable than an uninsured claim or lawsuit.
In addition to insurance, organizers should consider a written waiver of liability and release agreement. While no waiver and release document could capture and contain every possible risk or exposure, some basic principles should be considered by organizers of motorcycle charity events:
- Do the participants acknowledge and accept the risks of the event?
- Do they waive and release liability?
- Do they agree to indemnify and hold harmless the organizers, the volunteers, the sponsors or the charity itself?
- Are they licensed to operate a motorcycle? Is their motorcycle licensed?
- Are they safe to operate or ride on a motorcycle? Are they safe to operate or ride on a motorcycle on THIS ride?
- Is their motorcycle safe to operate? Is it safe to ride on THIS ride? Are they riding their own motorcycle or at least familiar with the bike they’re riding?
- Are they insured? Is their bike insured?
- Do they have safety equipment? Is it required? By law? By the event itself?
- Are they going to abide by all laws – not just traffic laws, but ALL laws – while participating in the event?
- Do they understand that there is – or there is not – an escort for the ride, and to participate in the ride accordingly?
- Is liability, if any, limited? If so, to what amount?
- Do participants agree to let the charity or ride organizers use their image or likeness in publicity about the charity or the ride?
The foregoing are just some matters to consider when assembling a waiver and release agreement for participants to complete prior to participating in a motorcycle charity event. A written waiver and release of liability, drafted by an attorney knowledgeable and experienced in such matters, should be considered as a possible requirement of all participants in the event: riders, passengers, spectators, and anyone else who joins in the festivities.