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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My club is debating on whether it is necessary to require that any trail work volunteeers are a member of the club in order to be covered for insurance purposes.

While it is clear that it would always be a preferred situation to have only club members working with tools etc, it might also be considered bad form to require that someone who has shown up to donate their free time to first donate $ for dues before swinging a pulaski.

Would it be feasible to accept their membership based on a pledge to pay the dues later? I bet this would be problematic if a suit is filed. What consitutes a member and when do they officially become a member are prime topics for lawyering.

I understand the limitations of waivers (in that, they will not prevent a suit from being brought or prevent incurring legal expenses) but aren't they always a good idea?

Any thoughts you can offer would be appreciated.
 

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What sorts of insurance are you talking about, liability or workers comp. I believe that workers comp is usually available through the land management agency, which why it is important to have everyone register and fill out the correct paperwork for the land manager. The fact that everyone volunteered, signed a liability release and the club doesn't have deep pockets, would seem to make the chance of a liability lawsuit unlikely.
 

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featherweight clydesdale
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ISUPsyclones said:
Any thoughts you can offer would be appreciated.
Call Scott Chapin at RJF Insurance. If you're not with these guys already, you should be because the old provider doesn't cover near what RJF does. Only thing I'm aware of they don't/can't cover is a teeter totter.

I've worked with 6 other trail building organizations and none required membership prior to digging dirt.
 

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trail rat
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My understanding is tthat an IMBA Affiliate club has liability insurance backed by IMBA for all workers on work days, not just club members. Most public agencies, State / County / City Parks who we partner with also have liability insurance that covers all volunteers.

We have a waiver that an attorney has approved as a CYA measure, and all the public agencies have waivers that are signed on each work day as well.

If yours is an IMBA club, you should be covered, but double check. Also ask the land manager if you are working with one. If you are on private land, then I have no idea, rules vary state to state.
 

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desk jockey
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bweide said:
What sorts of insurance are you talking about, liability or workers comp. I believe that workers comp is usually available through the land management agency, which why it is important to have everyone register and fill out the correct paperwork for the land manager. The fact that everyone volunteered, signed a liability release and the club doesn't have deep pockets, would seem to make the chance of a liability lawsuit unlikely.
Workers comp would not ever apply to volunteer trail workers.

I believe that the liability policies obtained through RJF cover volunteers whether or not they are members of the local trail group.
 

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featherweight clydesdale
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jsg said:
Workers comp would not ever apply to volunteer trail workers.

I believe that the liability policies obtained through RJF cover volunteers whether or not they are members of the local trail group.
As a side note, US Forest Service has some weird insurance coverage for volunteers, similar to coverage for its employees, if I'm recalling correctly. Don't know if that includes some kind of workers comp or not. The whole reason for chainsaw certification on federal lands, followed by the required CPR certification (like you're going to do CPR on yourself or someone after slicing your thigh...) is that as a volunteer, you have to meet the same certification requirements as the employees because you're under the same policy (which may include workers comp?). Or so I was told. CPR is one of their insurance requirements, hence the tie-in to chainsaw cert.

The guys cutting firewood are not subject to the same requirements because they are not performing tasks that would otherwise be done by forest service employees.
 

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I actually started an entire thread on the workers comp NOT being extended to volunteers on federal lands and about how certain USFS volunteer agreements have been changed to reflect this. (I guess I should have phrased my thread more concisely.) Anyway, my understanding is that it all depends on the type of volunteer agreement you have and how the USFS region you are in is handling workers comp coverage. Scott Chapin and I exchanged quite a few emails about workers comp. As you stated in subsequent posts, talking with Scott is worth it.
 

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desk jockey
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I guess I don't know much about USFS volunteer policies and procedures, we don't work with USFS here locally. I don't think this is common among state, county or local land management agencies. I just wanted to be sure there were no misunderstandings among those reading the thread.
 

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trail rat
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I do know from personal involvement that CA State Parks has a Volunteers in Parks program that provides Workman's Comp IF you are a registered participant. Most of us that work there regularly are registered.

I do not think this extends to the group work days that we schedule a few times a year however, those are covered by our group via the IMBA insurance we carry. State Parks has us sign a waiver form for each group day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks

Thanks for the all the helpful info. We have determined that volunteers are covered and everyone must sign a waiver. We also decided to limit any kids under twelve from swinging tools like pulaskis and such.

I'm new at leading stuff like this, so I appreciate the input.

Brian
 
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