Woman sues VFM for tripping over her own tent peg | OPINION
Organising a rally for a few thousand drunken scooterists is seemingly more of a minefield than negotiating a campsite after dark.
“Where there’s blame there’s a claim” and “No win no fee” solicitors have a lot to answer for. Nobody takes responsibility for their own actions any more. Somebody gets a minor bump in a car and no longer are they happy to settle for the cash to repair any damage but they also want a pound of flesh for the imaginary whiplash it caused.
The blame culture has reared it’s ugly head on scooter rallies as well. Over the last 15 years most national rally organisers have been sued for what is usually nothing more than a self-inflicted drunken injury, or accident. Almost all of these court cases have been as a result of alcohol induced stupidity, rather than negligence on the part of the organiser. Thankfully most have been thrown out of court, hopefully landing heavily on every concrete step as they fall.
Who put that guy rope there?
This morning VFM received the latest solicitors letter for an accident that happened on the Thursday night at the Isle of Wight. Remember it’s Thursday and the huge campsite is still relatively empty. There’s plenty of space for camping, lots of room between tents (unless people decide they need to be close to friends). The floodlights are on and the area near the club house is well lit.
Wobbly woman comes staggering out of the club house, snakes her way across to her tent (near the floodlights) and trips over her own guy rope. She breaks a collar bone (seemingly an old/existing injury) and is tended to by VFM’s first aid staff and later in A&E.
Most people would treat it as a daft accident and laugh it off, yes it’s inconvenient and may mean she’ll have to have time off work (or be unable to cash her giro) but it wasn’t a trip wire set up to catch her out. This was her own guy rope! We’ve all tripped over them on dozens of occasions.
Perhaps in the future everybody will need to bring a picket fence to erect around each tent, although somebody could trip over that as well.
What does it mean for the rallies?
Every time somebody sues a rally organiser or venue it’s another nail in the coffin for scootering as we know it. The large-scale rally organisers are all insured for public liability but they still end up taking the flak, they have months of legal battles to go through, letters and statements to write and they have to prove they’ve not been negligent. Insurers will do anything to wriggle out of a claim and one promoter almost lost their home over a claim.
It’s not always easy to prove, or disprove negligence, maybe somebody slipped on a dance floor, who should ensure it’s clean at all times? Perhaps security have told somebody to stop doing something (as happened at Mersea a few years ago), the person continues and has a life changing accident. Should security have escorted the person off site before the accident happened?
Should all reckless fun be stopped? Maybe cotton wool and bubble wrap should be handed out at the gate as you enter a site. Even so it’d need policing to ensure you wore the protection at all times.
Most rally programmes include a disclaimer at the end in small print, this goes some way to protecting the promoter but is it far reaching enough? How about everybody has to physically sign a disclaimer before entering a rally site or evening do? How would you feel having to queue up in the rain after riding 200 miles to get there, just to sign a bit of soggy paper handed out by the fun police, necessary because some low life is prepared to sue an organiser, a fellow scooterist for their own drunken idiocy?
Perhaps it’ll get to the stage where membership cards are introduced again to stop the hangers on who cause grief and hassle as they leach from the scene we’ve all built up over the last 30-odd years.
NAME & SHAME
One of the best deterrents is to name and shame individuals who have tried (without good cause) to sue a fellow scooterist due to their own stupidity. All national rally organisers would happily ban them from their own events (myself included) and posters could be put on the door at events in a similar way to the ‘Pub watch’ scheme. After all these people are accident prone and you wouldn’t want one of them falling on you during a night out would you?
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