Do you realize how much YOU have in common with Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery? No, these men did not commit the physical crimes against children, as did Jerry Sandusky. However, they are responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child. This blog isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was (or wasn’t) fired, that will all pan out in court, but it is a REALITY check for all involved with youth that no one is invincible.
While the Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and it’s football program, understand that this happens FREQUENTLY in youth sports. Most of our readers are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in one-way or the other. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the side-lines? Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization. You are there to protect them at all cost.
Some time ago, we did a blog on Protect Your Kids From Predators In Youth Sports. This blog is a must read for anyone that has or is involved with children. It includes an article from Sports Illustrated from actual predators in youth programs saying “This is how we got away with it …this is how you protect your kids.” (Example from the article, Did you know, Studies have found that the average preferential molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? DISTURBING). It also contains useful Risk Management guidelines that can be implemented TODAY!
For more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation, visit our blog.
Shart this with others so that we all can make a difference.
Many sports administrators mistakenly believe that they don’t need to buy Accident and General Liability insurance to cover their sports programs due a variety of reasons. Based on my 22 years in the sports insurance industry, I have compiled the following list of invalid excuses:
1. We Have Never Had A Serious Injury Or Lawsuit In The Past…….
The fact is that sports lawsuits tend to be infrequent but have a high severity potential in terms of potential damages owed. Some sports organizations may go over five years without a serious incident but it is just a matter of time.
2. Waiver / Release Forms Will Prevent Lawsuits
The fact is that the use of a well drafted waiver / release forms is a great tool for potential contractual transfer and for triggering the assumption of risk defense under some circumstances; however, they won’t prevent a lawsuit from being filed. Even if the waiver / release does result in the lawsuit being dismissed on summary judgment, it may still cost from $10,000 to $20,000 in legal defense costs to get to that point.
Typically, a poorly drafted waiver / release will be of little value and most sports organizations don’t pay enough attention to the details. Also, in the context of a minor, only ten states will presently accept the signature of a parent to bind the minor which may result in lawsuit dismissal on summary judgment. In the other 40 states, the fallback position will be to use the waiver / release to trigger the assumption of risk defense which may result in a significant reduction in damages owed. But……..a waiver / release will never take the place of General Liability insurance.
3. Volunteer Immunity Statutes Will Prevent Lawsuits
State and federal volunteer immunity statutes are a positive step in the right direction. However, they typically have too many loopholes and exceptions that limit their effectiveness. For example, most immunity statutes exempt protection in the event of grossly negligent behavior, willful or wanton conduct, or the reckless disregard for the safety of others. The problem is that most lawsuits make these allegations and the judge will have to sort out if they have any merit which can take some time. The greater the time that is taken to sort this out, the greater the legal fees.
In addition, these statutes don’t protect paid staff and the sports organization as an entity itself.
4. Employees / Volunteers / Administrators Will Provide Their Own Individual Liability Policies
Many sports organizations will leave it up to the individual volunteers or administrators to protect themselves through Homeowner’s Liability, Personal Umbrella, or Coach Certification Liability policies. This can be a dangerous strategy for many reasons.
Homeowner’s Liability and Personal Umbrella policies may have an exclusion for lawsuits arising out of activities of the insured person as a “sports volunteer”. Furthermore, they won’t protect against the non bodily injury or non property damage lawsuits that a Directors & Officers policy may protect against such as discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to follow own rules or bylaws, etc.
Coach Certification Liability policies are a great membership benefit and were designed to act as a safety net in the event that other insurance is not in force or has an problem exclusion. However, they should not be relied on in lieu of primary insurance for the sports organization. I will explain this in detail in another blog posting.
Source: John Sadler
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