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Getting Sued as an Instructor $$$$$

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  • Getting Sued as an Instructor $$$$$

    Received a question from a vehicle rescue instructor who would like to offer training to members of area fire departments but is worried about being sued. His department won't provide liability coverage to the department's instructors because they're teaching non-members.

    What do you say to that?

    My reply:
    Since your own dept isn't going to provide liability coverage for your team as instructors, what I would consider is a two-fold approach. 1) Have all participants from the other departments come to class with an official form (that you create). The form states that the individual is officially assigned to the training and is covered as an 'employee' (or member, or participant, etc) under that department's insurance coverage (primarily worker's comp). In addition, the form states that this participation is officially sanctioned by the member's department. Have it signed by the department's chief and/or training officer. This eliminats freelancing students.

    Secondly, on the first day of the class, go through the instructor safety protocols as I detailed in the recent Univ of X series including the safety briefing. Inspect turnout gear, insist on eye protection, etc. have standby EMS stuff, etc.

    At that point, you're just running on the luck of the draw that you've done your best to eliminate and/or minimize the exposures to injury or death.
    Last edited by rmoore; 07-06-2003, 01:29 PM.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

  • #2
    Now, as a follow-up, how would you address the area department members participating in your extrication class regarding using or misusing the skills learned in the class on the streets?? For example, Bubba's Fire Dept. injures a patient during an extrication, and we provided them with extrication training. Would a disclaimer provide us any protection in that instance?


    My Reply:
    My response to this possibility is to document how the 'trainee' was instructed during the time they were participating in the class. Have a lesson plan, formalized presentation, standard techniques. This is your disclaimer. For me, I base everything on my book and the new lesson plan that accompanies it. That is what is taught, what is shown, and what is actually done in the class by the instructor and the participants.

    Now, a month later, Bubba is "bumming a door" and gets hurt. He sues you and your instructors. In court, you whip out your lesson plan and show that the plaintiff was doing something that he was NOT taught, NOT shown, and NOT allowed to do in your class. You show the jury that he went out on his own limb, and varied from generally accepted practices and procedures, with his negligence and failure to conform to what a reasonable and prudent rescuer would have done under the same circumstances, resulting in his injury.

    Chances are, your lesson plan information will come up during the initial deposition. The Plaintiff's attorney will probably convince Bubba to drop the case before it ever goes to court when faced with that solid evidence.

    You teach it the right way and don't worry about Bubba being stupid later down the road. You and your team have lives to save!!
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Also talk to your insurance agent about Professional Liability and/or blanket Personal Liability insurance.

      Usually it's relatively inexpensive. I'm not an agent or lawyer, but if you're making money as an instructor I'm guessing you need the professional liability insurance; if you're just a volunteer the Personal Liability should do.

      (I knew one guy who had the personal liability insurance -- he had considerable assests from a family business, and in addition to his fire company work as a fire company officer (what if someone sued due to negligence/etc from that) he also was a bit of a hot-head on the school board (and the personal liability protected against slander/libel suits). He'd be the "deep pockets" in a lawsuit, so the personal liability would protect his personal & business assests from being lost in a lawsuit)

      I'd think between the student's departments assuming liability for injuries during training and the instructor obtaining personal insurance against errors & ommissions things are pretty well covered.
      IACOJ Canine Officer
      20/50

      Comment


      • #4
        Check your state statutes...

        Here's is 7-323q from CT:

        Sec. 7-323q. Indemnification of fire service instructors. The state shall save harmless and indemnify any person certified as a fire service instructor by the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control under section 7-323l from financial loss and expense, including legal fees and costs, if any, arising out of any claim, demand, suit or judgment by reason of alleged negligence or other act resulting in personal injury or property damage, which acts are not wanton, reckless or malicious, provided such person at the time of the acts resulting in such injury or damage was acting in the discharge of his duties in providing fire service training and instruction.
        (P.A. 89-278, S. 1.)
        IACOJ Agitator
        Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

        Comment


        • #5
          Ron, like you said in situation #2.

          Keep a record of your students and keep a copy of your lesson plan.

          I was talking with the CT Fire Academy a few months back asking them which records I should be keeping.

          They told me to keep a record of the students (with SSN), lesson plan, and any quizzes or tests with the answer keys. If you have slides, a printed copy of the slides (powerpoint or otherwise) should be kept as well.

          If you keep all that and something happens, you can show what you were teaching. So if someone misuses the skills out in the field and tries to sue you, you can document what he was taught.
          IACOJ Agitator
          Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

          Comment


          • #6
            For those operating in Australia, it is recommended that you have Public Liability for any injuries to either your students or other people in the area- generally around $10 million is minimum.

            For protection on the techniques you actually teach, ie: If I was to teach someone about SRS and they follow my advice and were injured, then you need Professional Indemnity Insurance.

            Beware- they're both different and do not cover each other!

            Also, very expensive...
            Luke

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