Off Road Liability

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billy714
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:52 pm
Call Sign: KJ6KHR

Off Road Liability

#1

Post by billy714 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 1:00 pm

I have started wondering about the following and thought it might be an interesting topic for a future net.

Let's say:

You are driving in a wilderness area and you come upon a stranded rig. The stranded party asks you to winch them out, tow them out, etc. In the course of assisting the stranded party, something goes wrong. You damage their vehicle or worse, someone in their party is injured. Are you liable? Does your insurance or their insurance or any obtainable insurance protect you? Would having them sign a "release of liability" form before assisting them help? If so, where you you get such a form that would hold up in court. Does it depend on what state it happened in?

I have the questions, but unfortunately no answers. With any such question, there are typically lots of opinions about what "seems right" or "should be", but I would like to find out what the law says or at least how such cases have gone in the past.

Thanks for your consideration of my net topic. I am really enjoying the Thursday night group!

Bill, KJ6KHR

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cruiserlarry
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Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:23 pm
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Re: Off Road Liability

#2

Post by cruiserlarry » Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:22 pm

billy714 wrote:I have started wondering about the following and thought it might be an interesting topic for a future net.

Let's say:

You are driving in a wilderness area and you come upon a stranded rig. The stranded party asks you to winch them out, tow them out, etc. In the course of assisting the stranded party, something goes wrong. You damage their vehicle or worse, someone in their party is injured. Are you liable? Does your insurance or their insurance or any obtainable insurance protect you? Would having them sign a "release of liability" form before assisting them help? If so, where you you get such a form that would hold up in court. Does it depend on what state it happened in?

I have the questions, but unfortunately no answers. With any such question, there are typically lots of opinions about what "seems right" or "should be", but I would like to find out what the law says or at least how such cases have gone in the past.

Thanks for your consideration of my net topic. I am really enjoying the Thursday night group!

Bill, KJ6KHR
Without claiming any legal expertise, I can give you a simple answer - you can be held liable for the results of any action you are a party to. Whether that means you would actually be judged financially or criminally liable is a matter for the courts, and the ethics of the person or party you are trying to assist.

I was sued for damage to a vehicle by a person I helped when I noticed their car was on fire as I was driving by. I pulled over, got my extinguisher out, put out the fire under the hood before it spread, and then gave them my information so they could replace the fire extinguisher I used to help them (that's what they told me, and I was young and naive). Instead, I received a summons to compensate for the damage the extinguisher residue caused to the vehicle - no thanks, no extinguisher. Fortunately, reason prevailed, and it never went to court, and didn't cost me much money - although I still didn't get a replacement extinguisher - but it definitely jaded me regarding assisting others for a long time.

Time has passed, and I believe it is imperative as a human being that I be willing to help someone in need, but I try to minimize my legal exposure as much as the situation will allow, knowing the possible consequences. In fairness, I think this is good, because I shouldn't let my desire to help override my ability to help effectively. I need to be aware of my limitations, so as not to cause a greater problem than I solve when coming to the aid of someone else.

I now defer to the legal minds among us to give you an accurate answer... :lol:
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billy714
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:52 pm
Call Sign: KJ6KHR

Re: Off Road Liability

#3

Post by billy714 » Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:21 pm

Larry, your fire extinguisher story is frightening.

Until I fully and properly know how to use my winch, I'm telling everyone it's broken and that I left my recovery strap in the garage at home :D

Thanks for your reply. Very well thought out as usual.

Bill, KJ6KHR

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unwiredadventures
Posts: 402
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:50 pm
Call Sign: KG6JVE
Location: Pasa Bernardino
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Re: Off Road Liability

#4

Post by unwiredadventures » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:44 am

One of my friends won't help anyone unless they agree on video camera that they accept all liability for anything that may happen while he assists. Including any injury to my friend and his vehicle.
'97 Land Cruiser FZJ80

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