scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: Who owns a Troop? - - a different twist
Robert Blau (rblau@ECLIPSE.NET
Fri Nov 05 1999 - 19:58:36 CST
> I have a question with a different implication. Where does the insurance
>I am asking our church, which just completed a new building this year,
> to sponsor a Venturing Post. Our church has never had a link to Scouting,
> and the board of elders is asking questions about insurance liability.
You are confusing two distinct and totally separate concepts, insurance and
liability. There is no such thing as "insurance liability" . There is
something called "liability insurance". You insure yourself incase you are
Liability refers to being liable or responsible for an injury to someone
else. There is no way to determine who is liable until after the accident
happens and the court determines liability. Liability usually is based on
negligence. Basically, negligence is means doing something that a
reasonable person would not do or not doing something a reasonable person
would have done. It is not quite that simple. You also must have a duty to
the person. (For instance there is no duty to a trespasser). Further there
must be proximate cause between the negligent action and the injury. If you
are found liable than you must pay damages for the injury that you cause by
Now comes the question of insurance. You buy insurance to protect yourself
against liability for your negligence.
Who should be insured? Everybody.
Who is liable? It depends on the facts.
Lets say that you meet at the Charter Organization's hall. The steps are
broken. You and all the other Scout leaders know it. You meet there
anyway. As a result a scout is injured. Who will get sued? You all will.
Who will be found liable? Maybe all of you.
Therefore, who should be insured? Everyone.
What I have explained above is an oversimplification of what it takes 3
years to teach lawyers. Now to make it even more complicated, the details
depend on state law which will differ from state to state. For instance the
Charter Organization may or may not be immune from liability depending on
the state, the cause of the accident, and the type of organization.
> I have not been able to get a totally clear answer from Council, insurance
> folks or other Scouters. I would think that with new units and new chartering
> organizations popping up all the time that this would be an easy question to
> answer. Any help out there??
I think that you should now understand why this is not an easy question to
(or do you just have to assume that if someone
> wants to sue, they can sue any link in the chain? - from another youth, to an
> adult leader, to the chartering organization, to the Council, to National????)
That is exactly right. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. Whether they
can win the suit depends on the facts and the law of the particular state.
> And maybe a corollary question, should individual units have their own
> additional liability insurance policies?
Units probably do not need there own liability insurance. They are
essentially judgment proof. For instance, assume that my Pack is found
liable for $1,000,000. All the injured person is going to get is the money
in our pack treasury, two flags, and some camping equipment. Hardly worth
paying insurance to protect.
>Also, is the "Scouting unit" - i.e.
> Pack, Troop, Post, a legal entity that can be sued?
Whether or not it is a legal entity, it can be sued. But as I noted above,
no one is going to bother to sue most units because they have few assets.
The, BSA, Council, Charter Organization, and individual leaders, can be
sure that they will be sued, whether they are liable or not.
Rob Blau, Cubmaster
Springfield, New Jersey