Try my boat out, then SUE ME ?!?

How much at risk am I actually putting myself at if I’m letting potential buyers, who are already whitewater or sea kayakers, demo personal kayaks on mellow-moderate whitewater or just on the cold ocean? Or when my sometimes unexperienced friends go kayaking with me in my spare sea kayak or inflatable whitewater kayak?

I hate to think about it, but I’ve been taking friends out quite a bit AND letting potential buyers try boats out – too much risk for non-friends? What if friend’s wife/husband/parents sue? No unaccompanied strangers?

It’s good to be a bit paranoid, just a bit … Where should we draw the lines when dealing with theses issues?

it’s your choice
Be a weiner or don’t be a weiner. I decide on a case by case basis but can’t remember ever refusing someone. If I have disuaded someone a little it wasn’t because I was concerned about liability, it was because I thought it was the right thing to do.

For the time being, all this concern about liability for non-professional paddlers is a bit overblown. If I’m still around here in 20-30 years, ask me again.

if you had to go through life…
always worrying about being sued, that would really suck. I have no problems letting people try my kayaks out. I’m not taking someone’s infant child and shoving them in my boat. This is a grown adult making a choice to try out the kayak.

Common Sense, and Luck
Even without worrying about being sued, there’s no point in taking people out in a boat where they will have a bad experience. They’ll blame you or kayaking, either will make you crazy. And sometime somewhere someone will sue a paddler for a perfectly ridiculous reason - ultimately all you can really do is take measures to reduce the likelihood that it’s you.

We happily put people into our boats that we know are more boat than they are used to and let them try them out, but some cautions. No neoprene skirts on glass decks, or anything that wouldn’t just shove off under a panic response, unless we really know that the paddler has a lot of time with wet exits using a similar skirt. Nylon skirts at most for anyone we’d question, or none at all even better. Stay close to them, watch them in shallow water for a while, in general make sure you know what you have on your hands. No experiments in cold water.

The WW boater part is interesting - while my personal opinion is that most WW folks can outpaddle an equivalent experience sea kayaker in tough conditions, we’ve run into some funny assumptions. One is that the sea kayak will be harder to roll than their WW boat is. Hardly so, in fact if they are used to the planing hull boats they’ll usually window-shade the first time in an easy rolling sea kayak. But some have gotten into the boats and are operating on that assumption nonetheless, so it affects how they paddle.

Do this, shaunotter.

– Last Updated: Feb-03-07 7:09 PM EST –

Have the demoers and friends who are using your equipment scratch out a real quick note--you know, on the back of a map or a napkin or something--that says plainly, "Shaunotter is letting me use his stuff at my own risk. I will not sue Shaunotter if I get maimed or killed".

Then, in that very unlikely situation where they kill themselves, you'll at least have something to show the Judge to get yourself off the hook.

Oh, by the way, have them date and sign it (that is key), and after they sign it, ask them to check their signature against the one on the back of their license or a credit card or something. Some "friends" are cunning enough to scribble a weird ass signature, unlike their real one, just so that, in the event of a lawsuit, their loved ones can argue that you signed the form, not the dead man.

Sort of like a hand reaching out from the crypt to get you, if you know what I mean.

An interesting thread. I 'm going to blast some Van Halen and clean my bathroom now, but I'll check back later for more great tips on this subject from other Pnetters. Thanks.

common sense
if you go paddling with folks you want to be safe so you make sure you know the folks you go paddling with,if you are providing equipment,local knowledge or leading someone to something they wouldn’t do without you then make sure you feel comfortable with the responsibility or don’t do it. Regarding the demoing I wouldn’t let someone take it out in dicey conditions, if they are that unsure about the purchase let them damage someone elses boat to become sure.

Sue me?
Great Outdoor Provision Company is similar to Dick’s Sporting Goods.Nine or so locations here in the Carolinas; don’t think they are nation wide.

They have a program that allows you to take a demo home for all weekend to use and bring back Monday…at no charge. Great people…I bet they had a corporate lawyer design a waiver. A company this big can’t take chances.

They are easy find and talk to.

I think I’ll sue you
for making me worry about this.

Got to be a buck in there somewhere.


OK … I’ll counter sue :slight_smile:
I need to get better fitting helmets for friends, even for things like tomorrow’s two buddies taking my IK’s on Class II (Smith R., Calif. Gasquet run) – gotta be safe :slight_smile: and make sure their comfy, secure and WARM. Hypothermia is he big one to avoid in the winter, of course, even near the coast.

I like to use Cool Doc’s method
and then kill them myself. Once I’ve got that signed waiver, all bets are off

LOL, boheme. Good one.

A new set of friends might help, too.

You are probably only at risk to the maximum of your household liability policy. No, I won’t tell what mine is because everyone will want to try my boats :wink: Sure they could sue you for more but I guess most lawyers would go for the quick buck (unless they are paddlers too and you have a boat they covet).

Disclaimer: Nothing in the above should be construed as being legal advice or based on sound legal principles. Use at your own risk. This posting has no written or assumed warantee and is presented as-is solely for the amusement of the reader, who would probably be better off out paddling.

Anyone ever been named in a suit?
1) I absolutely agree that you can’t go through life worrying about getting sued.

2) However, I have great sympathy for those who have been through the process. As a physician, I have seen several friends go through the process, and it is universally horrific, even though they have all been found not at fault. One of the common themes I’ve seen, is that people are upset about something (grandma dying at age 95, etc.) and want someone to blame (a natural human response). It never seems to have to do with the facts of the matter. A letter just shows up in your mailbox one day. Then, you have from 1 to 7 years of hell defending your honor. Bottom line: You just do your best,use common sense and you might get sued and you might not.

Excellent summary
Thanks for the excellent post by my fellow paddler and attorney marciat on the other thread. “But we understand that anybody can sue anybody for anything and the risk is less being held liable than the cost of defense.” I would like to reitterate that the “cost of defense” is much, much more than financial.

if you do that,
you better make sure we don’t meet again on a river…

I was named in my birthday suit

Great Outdoor Provision Company is nothing like Dick’s as far as I’m concerned. They (GOPC) actually have useful gear at good prices. Dick’s bought out a store called Galyan’s up here in the DC metro area a few years ago. Galyan’s entire upstairs was mostly camping/climbing gear, paddlesports and fishing gear. My kinda store…

Dick’s took over and paddlesports and camping gear were crammed into one corner, fishing gear slashed by half and they replaced half of the high-end fishing gear with cheap crap you can buy at Wally World. The rest of the upstairs was given over to Golf equipment.

I never miss an opportunity to hit the GOPC in Raliegh when I run down to visit the relatives.

not entirely to the point, but…
I sold a few motorcycles and pretty much told people up front that they weren’t allowed to test drive. They could come along as a passenger, no prob, but not drive.

Haven’t had to face the demo issue with boats I’ve sold, since all three times the person knew what they were getting and had no need to demo. I think for anything other than flat water, it’d be ‘no skills, no demo.’

I did have a bit of concern once on a department picnic (on a small lake) when a coworker wanted to try out a WW boat I had brought along. Even without a skirt, I had visions of the guy flipping, panicking, and drowning himself. So I stuck close by in another boat in case a HOG was needed. Concern was unjustified - he stayed upright just fine and probably would have fallen out anyway if he’d flipped.

If you’re worried
Tell them to go to a store and demo a new one, and then come buy yours for the used-boat discount.