Re: Pack Liability
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 22:56:03 -0400
Sometimes volunteer organizations are victimized by dishonest and
predatory ne'erdowells whether we like it or not. Some see such
organizations as an easy mark for a quick con, others have a grudge or
agenda and see a way to make a strike, and others are just looking for
someone else to pay for their own follies.
All you need to do is talk to a claims adjuster to find out just how many
times the insurance company has been the target of con artists and others
hoping to profit from a situational opportunity. I personally know of a
case involving a high school car wash where a claim was made and the
damages included a long scratch that had been there long enough to have
rusted its entire length. In that case the claimant got a little
surprise - he was charged with insurance fraud.
We as Scouts and Scouters try our best to be honest and to be responsible
when we do something especially if it causes harm to another. We tend to
be willing to step in and take responsibility on trust because we believe
it to be the right thing to do.
Sometimes though this is dangerous. Before accepting responsibility one
has to know the facts. Sure the customer claimed damage, but do you know
this to be so? Did anyone see the damage? Was it there when she arrived?
Could it have happened after she left, like at a parking lot?
If you are convinced that one of your group caused the damage, by all
means pay. If on the other hand everyone was using care and it is
unlikely that your group did any damage, you need to think about whether
you are being victimized and whether it is worth fighting over.
If your Pack has insurance or your chartered organization has insurance,
turn it over to them for resolution. Let them act as a disinterested
third party to do the hard analysis of whether there is liability at all.
If you don't have an insurer, you should be aware that your Council most
likely does have an attorney that acts as Counsel to the Council on its
Executive Board. Ask this attorney for advice and follow it. He or she
will know what your real risks and liabilities are or can easily find
Its sad that it is getting to the point where to do a car wash you just
about have to have one of those forms like the car rental companies use
to note down pre-existing damage and then get a sign off when the
customer leaves. I know that if I was a judge and someone came before
the bench with a complaint like this, I'd be tempted to quote Judge
Friendly from the Ohio bench, who said "into everybody's life a little
rain must fall." But then again, I'm not a judge.
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
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