Alcohol, Water Skiing and Insurance

HortonHorton Posts: 31,709 Administrator
edited July 2013 in Rules/Politics/Issues
There is a lot of joking on this site about drinking and being juvenile. This is not one of those threads. I say when the skiing is done “Party On!” but not before.

It has always been my understanding that if a skier consumes alcohol and then gets hurt bad enough to need medical care, the lake owners / boat owners insurance is less likely to cover the claim. This leaves the lake owners / boat owners basically uninsured.

Does anyone understand the laws well enough to clarify the how the liability changes if the injured parting has alcohol in their system? Is this a misunderstanding on my part?

I bring this up because if my understanding is correct I think a lot of skiers would be more cautious when guests show up with a drink in hand.

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Comments

  • thagerthager Posts: 5,408 Mega Baller
    Ditto! I will not ski with or pull anyone who I know has been drinking even a few sips. Enough risks in this sport already. What they do after skiing is their choice.
    Stir vigorously then leave!
    Skoot1123
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,590 Mega Baller
    There's some people that I ski with that have a beer or two while they're skiing. Not sure about insurance but for sure opens the lake owners up to liabilities.

    This what happened to a very good friend. This friend's family owned a ranch that bordered on a small river. A guest of one of the family members drown in the river and was intoxicated. The wife of the guest won a huge lawsuit against the family. This was a grown man that made his own choice to drink and where he drown was not on or even near there property. Result was the family had to sell the ranch that had been in there family for years. The liability insurance they had only covered a fraction of the over all cost of the lawsuit.
  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,709 Administrator
    @gregy I am not talking hammered. I mean some blood alcohol level.

    I admit I will drive slalom while drinking my first beer. I am not sure that is legally super smart but I am pretty unlikely to get hurt driving and I am also super unlikely to run over a skier.

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  • HortonHorton Posts: 31,709 Administrator
    One more thing. I may not drink and ski but I am not am sure I do my share of stupid stuff. I am not trying to be all "high and mighty" about this. I sure as hell had a beer 3 minutes after my second ride yesterday.

    I just want to start a conversation about the liability angle.

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  • gregygregy Posts: 2,590 Mega Baller
    There's some lawyers on here I'm pretty sure. They should be able to shed some light on this. If I was a lake owner I'd for sure have it set up as a corp or LLC to limit person liability. But in the end if someone wants to file against you there nothing stopping them and lawyer are one that usually are the winners.
  • XR6HurricaneXR6Hurricane Posts: 328 Baller
    @Horton - this discussion came up with regards to boat insurance itself, with a friend of mine who was a claims adjuster for many years. I questioned him about the exclusion for "illegal acts". What he told me was that was "easy reader" policy language and that if the insurance company were to deny coverage based on it, that it had better be a serious legal infraction like reckless endangerment or they would be setting themselves up for a bad faith lawsuit. The way he explained it was that for the most part, being drunk is still covered.

    The big problem is that in any kind of accident, alcohol makes you guilty by association.

    Last I knew, it was specifically illegal here in Illinois to waterski, wakeboard, etc. if you were legally over the limit. Never heard of it being enforced. But if there is no law specifically banning alcohol completely, I can't see how an insurance company can deny a basic medical claim in good faith. Then again I'm no lawyer and civil laws may vary state to state.

    Common sense is dead in this country and quite frankly that is why I choose my guests carefully. One of my "friends" sneaked marijuana on board my boat about three years ago. He was the type who invited himself and didn't know an anchor from a paddle. We are no longer friends.
  • bogboybogboy Posts: 699 Solid Baller
    xR6Hurricane, what that claims adjuster was probably referring to was an extension, or denial of guest med. coverage on the home owners coverage, which are medical bills only (special damages), and have a relatively low limit, like around 1,000. This means that there is no liability, or the home owner did nothing wrong. In order for general damages to kick in, (pain and suffering), and a higher med limit, the claimant would have to show negligence, or that the home owner did something wrong. In any case the home owners insurance would generally owe a defense to the home owner, and try to get a summery judgement. (Law suit removed). If the summery judgement is not successfully, the homeowners coverage would likely still defend, and be on the claim.
  • bogboybogboy Posts: 699 Solid Baller
    Attorneys, please chine in.
  • bogboybogboy Posts: 699 Solid Baller
    Btw, most illegal acts are covered.
  • bogboybogboy Posts: 699 Solid Baller
    Not withstanding the insurance company sending out a reservation of rights letter. A possibility that coverage is excluded.
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 2,316 ★★★★Quad Panda Award Recipient ★★★★
    Boats, Ropes, Handles & Alcohol = Bad News !

    My Mom said not believe everything that you read

  • SkiJaySkiJay Posts: 2,314 Mega Baller
    As the stories surface from the Alberta floods this spring, I have to say that I'm appalled at how adept insurance companies are at avoiding a pay out. Even a hint of alcohol or illegallities would certainly make me nervous.
    www.FinWhispering.com ... Your ski should be your dance partner, not a wrestling opponent
    BradySkoot1123
  • BradyBrady Posts: 1,085 Mega Baller
    edited July 2013
    I talked with my my buddy who is an attorney (showed him this thread). He explained it quite simply to me. If you are standing out on your front porch and your buddy, who has been drinking, asked to use your car, and you let him, whatever happened as a result of him taking your car, you would be as responsible. In fact, you would even be more liable, because it was your vehicle that caused the damage.

    So translate that to a lake. My buddy said, that a lake would in essence be a giant car, and you would be completely liable. He then went on to say that you would not only be liable, but that you--and all the other lake owners--would be the first people they came after. Why? Easy money and deeper pockets than only one idiot who was the cause to begin with. My buddy was very candid with me and told me that even if there wasn't a sufficient case, they would still come after you because, to quote, "they can!"

    And, as has been mentioned by @SkiJay, insurance companies would fight hard to avoid paying because they would look for an out, in this case, alcohol.

    According to my friend, the best thing to do is have the lakes carry few assets outside of the lake, and have each owner carry a large umbrella policy. This means, have the lake-owned boat and other assets owned by a separate company so that IF something happens and IF someone sues, the assets are few...thus making it not appealing for the attorneys, if the insurance company doesn't pay up.

    I suggest simply burying the attorneys at 6 ball....I know, I would never ever find them there since I always go down before that one. :)

    NOTE... If it is YOU that is drinking and causes the accident to another person. you are screwed! Your ryder won't cover you and your insurance won't as well, so I would definitely not be drinking while you are on the lake.
    I ski, therefore I am
    Than_BoganSkiJaySkoot1123
  • SkiJaySkiJay Posts: 2,314 Mega Baller
    Nice work @Brady! Thanks for this pertinent input. As risky as water skiing is, I believe liability and contingency motivated lawyers are among the biggest dangers we face.
    www.FinWhispering.com ... Your ski should be your dance partner, not a wrestling opponent
    BulldogBrady
  • SkiJaySkiJay Posts: 2,314 Mega Baller
    Here is another SIGNIFICANT piece of the picture. You may say, "my ski buddy and I would never sue each other." You may have no say in the matter!

    Say you get hurt and look to your insurance to cover medical bills or to fix your boat. The next thing you know, your insurance company is suing your best friend, and you are powerless to call off the dogs.

    Mixing booze and boating on any level is simply not worth the risk.
    www.FinWhispering.com ... Your ski should be your dance partner, not a wrestling opponent
    BulldogBradyXR6HurricaneSkoot1123
  • BradyBrady Posts: 1,085 Mega Baller
    @SkiJay Great input as well. By the way, I should mention that my buddy works for an insurance company and is "one of those" attorneys that goes after the money. He is a great guy, but to him, his job is to protect his employer from paying out, period!
    I ski, therefore I am
  • rodltg2rodltg2 Posts: 1,051 Crazy Baller
    edited July 2013
    I can't stand more than anything people that won't take responsibility for their own actions and the lawyers who sue over it. If I decided to get all fookered up , ski and as a result injure myself , it's my fault , not the lake , the lake owners, the driver or manufacture of the boat.

    Unfortunatley not everyone thinks this way. I feel for the boy that lost his life over the teak surfing ordeal. But how does anyone in their right mind think that letting their child body surf the wave behind a boat with no life jacket is a smart thing to do. Boy passed out from co and drowned. Father sues boat manufacturer. Common !

  • MarcoMarco Posts: 1,431 Crazy Baller
    I may not always drink when I ski... But when I do, I prefer Kilo Kai. Stay thirsty, my friends.
    Brady
  • E_TE_T Posts: 629 extraterrestrial trouble maker
    @marco Ski Responsibly!
    E.T. phone home!
    I like reese's pieces

    "Leave nothing on the dock"~AM
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,590 Mega Baller
    edited July 2013
    I'm a little biased on this subject because I resently shut a business down and one of the primary reasons was that I couldnt get insurance. My previous insurer would not rewrite the policy and could find anyone else to insure me. Never had a claim the industry just had a bad wrap.

    Common sense has gone it seems and people don't want to take responsible for their on actions. Which leads to another reason I closed my business, I got tired of unreasonable people who always wanted something for nothing.
    Skoot1123
  • XR6HurricaneXR6Hurricane Posts: 328 Baller
    @rodltg2 - The company that built my boat went out of business because of a lawsuit, brought on by a guy who flipped the boat on a big boat roller and killed his girlfriend by going too fast on a holiday weekend and not knowing what he was doing to begin with. The little minor detail that the guy was coked up at the time made no difference to the court system.

  • BradyBrady Posts: 1,085 Mega Baller
    @rodltg2 @gregy I will say that even though I am "friends" with my neighbor who is the attorney, won't take him skiing. He has even asked a few times and my answer is simple. "Dude, I don't want to get sued." :)
    I ski, therefore I am
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 2,134 Mega Baller
    If my lake ever gets built - I will not allow any alcohol on the boat/lake/beach/dock/grounds. Period. If you want a beverage, it will be in my house or on my deck. Not worth the potential headache and the pain/suffering that would follow.
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