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Old 05-21-2016, 10:51 AM   #1
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"Be bold with your caution."

While grovelling the BoatUS Seaworthy site looking for engine failure statistics I ran across this interesting short piece: ""Company's Coming" Understanding Your Legal Liability to Guests"

I don't think I'm going to radically change my behavior, but their closing piece of advice (in this thread's title) is worth keeping in mind.
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Old 05-21-2016, 11:08 AM   #2
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That is good information, thanks for passing it along Keith.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 05-21-2016, 11:08 AM   #3
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Good insurance with a BIG umbrella.

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Old 05-21-2016, 11:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Good insurance with a BIG umbrella.
I only have mediocre marine insurance, but I do have that big umbrella. Yet the anecdotes in that story highlight the "soft" issues, particularly the sustained emotional effect of conflict with what was presumably a valued guest. It's way better not to "go there" - hence the recommendation in the title.
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Old 05-21-2016, 12:33 PM   #5
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Greetings,
Thanks. Great excuse to keep the in-laws off the boat.
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Old 05-21-2016, 12:54 PM   #6
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Thanks. Great excuse to keep the in-laws off the boat.
If our "friends" or in-laws are going to sue us, then we have much bigger problems than what our insurance coverage may be.

Great article. It does make me more cognizant of watching for risks. There are really two situations I would face. The most common is when I have friends or family on board. They aren't going to sue me, but I do want them to be safe and the article points out that dangers that are I think are obvious (to the point that I don't think of them) should be pointed out specifically to folks less familiar with boats.

An example. My new boat has side decks that run from the pilothouse door forward. Very easy to navigate. However, about 3' forward of the PH door there is step down of about 8". There is no feature in the rail or cabin top that coincides with this step. As such, when we picked up the boat, all of us aboard (myself, son, and wife) missed that step going forward. For my son and I it was just the uncomfortable experience you have at the base of a flight of stairs when there is one more step than you were expecting. For my wife, she actually fell to the deck once, causing her some significant bruising. Later, when we first took my daughter and son-in-law out, they both missed that step at least once. Again, not a big deal, but from then on we tell everyone getting on board about that easily missed step and are considering some visual indicator on the deck to make it more obvious. I am not going to get sued by these folks, but I don't want them to get hurt.

The other situation is when I may have a stranger or acquaintance on board. This could be at a Yacht Club function, or when a mechanic or other contractor is on board. These folks might sue me if my inattention or carelessness were to contribute to an injury (or even if they are simply stupid and careless). For these folks I am going to be more diligent about keeping an eye on them and pointing out any possible injury source ahead of time. Mostly because since they are strangers I can't assume the have the boat experience to avoid injury, and don't want them to get hurt and don't want to be held liable if they do. I had a mechanic on board to do some work on my engines. We had all the ER hatches open in the saloon. I repeatedly was reminding him to watch his step as he moved around the engine. Not that I thought the kid was an idiot, but because I knew he was in an unfamiliar space concentrating on other things. I would rather be a little annoying than to have him step backwards into the ER.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:10 PM   #7
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If our "friends" or in-laws are going to sue us, then we have much bigger problems than what our insurance coverage may be.

.
They could have no choice. Friends sue friends because insurers force them to. Simple example is friend falls overboard doing something stupid, hits their head, almost drowns, you save them and save their life.

Now, their health insurer pays huge medical costs but asks how the injury happened. Forces him to sue you in order for them to pay as they feel your insurance should reimburse all costs.

I've known two older ladies to ride to court together in a suit against each other. One fell in the other's house. The one who fell summed it up simply on the stand. She said, "I'm old. I'm clumsy. Clumsy old people fall." Judge stopped things and asked, "Then why are you suing, if you don't think it's the defendant's fault?" She said, "Because my insurance company is making me." The Judge then stood and said, "Attorney's in my Chambers Now." The suit was dropped.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:18 PM   #8
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We have a written and laminated rules and instruction document that all guests must read. We try to warn, not because we fear a suit (we also have a nice umbrella) but we don't want them hurt. I've honestly had no issues with guests on the coast, but occasionally did on the lake. Really had a problem once with a friend of a friend and made her very unhappy, but I didn't care. She was doing something very unsafe.

Problem is you can sue for anything. You can't protect yourself against getting sued. You can only partly protect against losing the suit.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:34 PM   #9
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Problem is you can sue for anything. You can't protect yourself against getting sued. You can only partly protect against losing the suit.
I agree to a point.

I have been in a private health care practice for for over 30 years. My father was in the same practice for 25 years before that, and my grandfather had another practice for over 40 years. In 130 years of collective practice, none of us were ever sued by a patients (yet). It is NOT because we have never had bad outcomes. A very few of those bad outcomes could have been preventable by different actions on my part. Those were situations where the patients would have had a legitimate case that my malpractice carrier would have settled in a heart beat. The primary reason I haven't been sued so far, either justly or unjustly is because I take actions to help prevent them (taught to me by my father).
  • I am nice to my patients.
  • I talk to them.
  • I listen to them.
  • I explain clearly what is happening.
  • I completely own up to any shortfalls that have occurred in my office, and
  • Document, document, document.
I am sure it will happen some day. I just am not going to worry about it in the mean time.
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Old 05-21-2016, 01:51 PM   #10
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I agree to a point.

I have been in a private health care practice for for over 30 years. My father was in the same practice for 25 years before that, and my grandfather had another practice for over 40 years. In 130 years of collective practice, none of us were ever sued by a patients (yet). It is NOT because we have never had bad outcomes. A very few of those bad outcomes could have been preventable by different actions on my part. Those were situations where the patients would have had a legitimate case that my malpractice carrier would have settled in a heart beat. The primary reason I haven't been sued so far, either justly or unjustly is because I take actions to help prevent them (taught to me by my father).
  • I am nice to my patients.
  • I talk to them.
  • I listen to them.
  • I explain clearly what is happening.
  • I completely own up to any shortfalls that have occurred in my office, and
  • Document, document, document.
I am sure it will happen some day. I just am not going to worry about it in the mean time.
I read a very good article recently about the failure of doctors and hospitals owing up to any shortfalls and speaking honestly to patients. It stated their doing that in fear of suits was actually contributing to more suits and more patient distrust.

Long ago my mother would have had a good possible suit. She developed peritonitis after surgery. Turned out she was allergic to the sterilizing agent on the gloves. Three people were reported to have the issue. Of course that agent was to reduce reactions (and did) from a previous agent.

Her surgery was stated as very risky from the start however and then her doctors performed incredibly once the problems arose (at that time didn't know the cause). They had to go back in. She had 12 doctors involved at one time, meeting to discuss what to do next. They told all they knew, then and later, and discussed what they didn't know. They argued professionally with each other. While the first surgery had already been billed, she got no further bill from the surgeons on the second surgery or any hospital care.

We had so many people say, "You should sue." Who, for what? Everyone did their best. The same doctors who performed the surgery that nearly lost her life, also saved her life. They were the ones there many times a day, constantly in communication.

They handled it honestly and did their best and we knew that.

I've spent my career in business without suits. We've resolved disagreements. That doesn't mean paid them off. It means honest communication and then compromise.

You are absolutely the type doctor I'd want.
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Old 05-21-2016, 09:10 PM   #11
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I agree to a point.

I have been in a private health care practice for for over 30 years. My father was in the same practice for 25 years before that, and my grandfather had another practice for over 40 years. In 130 years of collective practice, none of us were ever sued by a patients (yet). It is NOT because we have never had bad outcomes. A very few of those bad outcomes could have been preventable by different actions on my part. Those were situations where the patients would have had a legitimate case that my malpractice carrier would have settled in a heart beat. The primary reason I haven't been sued so far, either justly or unjustly is because I take actions to help prevent them (taught to me by my father).
  • I am nice to my patients.
  • I talk to them.
  • I listen to them.
  • I explain clearly what is happening.
  • I completely own up to any shortfalls that have occurred in my office, and
  • Document, document, document.
I am sure it will happen some day. I just am not going to worry about it in the mean time.
Excellent comments and I congratulate you on the many long years of a fine practice.

Having practice law in Cook County (Chicago) for decades I saw many physicians sued who did nothing wrong, and who treated their patients in a friendly caring manner. Problem was people were phonying up claims to make money. Or were lying about the after surgery care where the bad result was actually the patient's problem.

I am also well aware of the forced lawsuits brought on by the insurance companies.


Continue your fine practice. I hope the litigious society does not catch up to you.
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Old 05-21-2016, 10:33 PM   #12
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Continue your fine practice. I hope the litigious society does not catch up to you.
I am sure it will catch up to me eventually. Cost of doing business.
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Old 05-22-2016, 08:48 AM   #13
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Communication and documentation and honesty and caring and open mindedness and good ol' smarts and willingness and ability to handle items professionally and patience for outcome and love and having keen/keyed ears.

Some of the ways to keep life moving forward on a good course professionally and privately!

I feel/hear/see much of those and other good items from posters on this thread!

Gives me sort of a warm fuzzy feeling - ya know what I mean... LOL!
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Old 05-22-2016, 11:35 AM   #14
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Good discussion. Thanks Refugio.

There is a big difference in the frequency of lawsuits between US and Canada. After 30+ years of Canadian practice, I can tell you that the major difference in how our systems work is in costs. In Canada, to bring a suit against someone, for a personal injury (tort claims) requires a significant investment in experts, court fees, mediation or arbitration fees, examinations for discovery, etc. The loser has to pay those fees, so even though there may be a contingency contract with the lawyer, who advertises, "no fee until you collect", the rest of those hired to pursue the lawsuit will only work for fees payable at the time the work is done. As those costs may mount to real money quite quickly, the prospect of the Plaintiff having a huge bill to pay if there is little or no merit to the lawsuit acts as a significant deterrent to the bringing of frivolous lawsuits.
Then, if the lawsuit fails to get any award in court, there is the award of costs against the failing Plaintiff, who now pays the successful Defendant for all of those similar expenses incurred to defend the lawsuit, plus an amount to compensate for the legal Defence itself, another very significant amount.

Others may advise the role of costs as a deterrent to a US based lawsuit, but from my perspective, not nearly so much.
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Old 05-22-2016, 01:25 PM   #15
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In many situations it's not the number of lawsuits that is the real issue, but the size of the awards. Malpractice is the best example of this. There is too much of a punitive nature as opposed to a compensation for loss award. There are some real issues too in determining the value of losses. What is the value of a lost life for instance? The cost of malpractice insurance would change dramatically if there was an upper limit put on them, even if that limit was something like $10 million.

The cost to bring a suit can be huge and while that may be a deterrent, that has it's own problems. There are unscrupulous companies and individuals who use that to hide behind. They challenge people to sue them, knowing most can't afford to stay the course through suits, appeals, and more appeals. The side with the most money has a huge advantage.

Now, let's forget the financial issues and suits for a moment. I honestly don't think of those on a day to day basis when boating or doing anything else. I think of my moral obligation to friends, family and other guests. I feel responsible. I take that responsibility very seriously. I can't think of anything worse than someone getting seriously hurt or even killed while at my home or on my boat. At home, we don't allow running in the pool area and we don't allow throwing or pushing anyone in. We have no diving board. We're very free and open people in most respects but home or on the boat or in business, safety comes first. In business we have a strong safety program, and it's not because of OSHA or lawsuits, it's because we don't want to see people hurt. So, back to the boat.

We have very strong rules of behavior aboard. It starts with no drinking while underway. It includes a strong, "The Captain is in charge." It includes rules like do not help, unless asked and instructed to do so. Otherwise, when we dock, you stay where you are and don't move around. We have friends who are boaters and may help but under our instructions and they know what and what not to do. Amazing how many people get hurt because they don't realize their 160 lbs can't stop a 50 ton boat. If we say to put on life jackets or to get off the bow of the boat or to be seated, we mean it. If you bring a small child aboard, they will wear their life jacket and you will stay with them and keep them from harm's way. You don't relinquish parent responsibilities at our home or on our boat. There is nothing possible that would destroy our love of boating as quickly as a death or serious injury while doing so, especially if it was a result of our failure to enforce good boating rules. I think of one of the simplest. When I was young, I was never allowed to go swimming alone. I was a tremendous swimmer and that seemed silly to me then. I wasn't aware of cramps and heart attacks and everything in between. You don't swim in our pool at home alone, don't just go out by yourself. You don't swim off the boat alone. Either a constant observer acting as your lifeguard or a swim partner. Many things in life not to do alone. Don't go walking around the streets of a big city at night alone, don't go walking the streets of a foreign country alone.

The good doctors don't focus on malpractice. They focus as our doctors on this board have said, on doing things the right way. That's what we all have to do on our boats. The best protection you can have is that.
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Old 05-22-2016, 02:28 PM   #16
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Excellent post. It reminds me that I need to be more explicit in my instructions to folks on the boat. I think I often assume to much when it comes to the level of experience or common sense of folks.
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Old 05-22-2016, 05:29 PM   #17
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My wife and I used to donate dinner cruises to charities to auction off at their fund raisers. Usually this was a dinner for four people and we provided the food and 3 bottles of wine.


Then we were approached to do a larger charity cruise for the local cancer center. It was for up to 18 people and was for 6 hours. They provided the food and wine and brought cases of wine on board.


Near the end of the cruise I planned to stop in an area sheltered from the current so they could swim. As I was maneuvering the boat so set the anchor and was starting to back up I heard a lot of yelling from the stern. I went to neutral to find out what was going on and found that one drunk lady had jumped in the water as I was backing up.


The other 17 guests were appalled at what she had done and let her know. I was so mad I didn't even want to talk to her because I knew the words that came out would not be pretty or dignified.


I eventually did talk with her about how stupid her act of jumping in was and she apologized.


That one act has caused us to rethink donating charity cruises so we have not completely stopped. Sad, but it had to be done.
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:57 PM   #18
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The link posted from another thread on the USCG accident statistics showed that the largest contributing factor was alcohol.
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Old 05-23-2016, 12:11 AM   #19
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I keep copies of the following in my log at forward edge of salon steering station. Hand it to people who have not been aboard my boat recently and already reviewed the rules with me. We read them together; I answer questions, impress high points.



Passenger - BOAT RULES


1. Do you SWIM WELL? If not, wear a pfd whenever moving around outside of boat interior; when boat is not moving and sitting outside in a secure, confined location pfd may be taken off but kept readily available.


2. Do you WELL UNDERSTAND BOATING and are you at least TWO (2) YEARS EXPERIENCED in pleasure cruise boating? If not, whether you can swim well or not, whenever boat is moving sit down inside boat or sit wearing a pfd on flying bridge.


3. Understand that you will NOT TAKE ANY ACTIONS aboard except as you may be TOLD TO DO SO by me if I need assistance? If you do not understand this rule then you cannot accompany us.


4. DO NOT do anything to or with any portion of this boat unless I explicitly instruct you to do so, and, feel free to ask me questions about any portion of this boat or cruise. Understanding and following this rule is very important.


5. ENJOY EVERY MINUTE of your time aboard! A most important factor/rule!


Happy Boat Rule Daze! - Art
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Old 05-23-2016, 12:18 AM   #20
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Nice list Art. I think this is deserving of its own thread. Do folks have a set list like you do, if so, what are they?
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