Yesterday I posted what I consider to be an important message on Storm Track about the legal liabilities we have as storm chasers. Of course I posted this in a thread with a shit-ton of extremely simple minds discussing an extremely simple topic regarding a simple-minded reckless Camero driver out “chasing” on Wednesday in MO. I shouldn’t expect so much from StormTrack members anymore. Regardless, the safety of others, including non-chasers, was the topic of discussion at the time of my post.
Anyway, here is my original post; I have added more to it below:
The first thing we do when planning an event is call a buddy and get him or her onboard for the long drive to a target. Then we might load in another buddy or two… As the driver of a vehicle with the perceived notion by your passengers that you have their best interests in mind while chasing, you are highly liable for your actions and potential adverse decisions or even accidental encounters.
I’m not sure which tour company it was that got very close yesterday but one did. Do you think those “tourists” had a helluva ride and their monies-worth? You betcha. If that tornado had appeared 100 yards sooner do you think the result would be the same? No. Someone would be having the pants sued off them and every other tour operator would certainly lose their insurance as a consequence. This is a good example of one incident changing the face of storm chasing from a casualty/injury and a business standpoint. (As a disclaimer, I LOVE the chase tour business model; please do not take my comments/observations out of context).
Camero Dude… This guy is personally videoing his lawsuit evidence should he have hit and injured anyone. Why do this? I will note that this is a primary reason ChaserTV does not keep archived copies of live feeds. Liabilities aren’t pretty and they are everywhere.
I want to add yet another liability I’ll bet has not been considered.
It has become the norm to put stickers all over one’s car. These are generally stickers indicating your affiliation, be it a news outlet, streaming company, college, etc.
Businesses are a lot more desirable target than individuals when it comes to lawsuits. They insure well beyond their needs (in most cases), therefore have much deeper pockets. If you are a storm chaser or freelancer with rights to use logos, press passes, etc. from a business entity, this is implied employment, contract or not. Therefore, if you are at fault in an accident, damage property, etc., YOU, the chaser are liable and the company you “work for” is liable. BOTH of you will get sued. So for those of you who are either issuing your corporate stickers or allowing others to recreate your logo, slogans, etc and put them on their vehicle(s), your company is at great risk! Those of you using these stickers while chasing, I perfectly understand, it gets you through roadblocks and it garners attention you require for whatever reason. You are only at risk for a personal liability suit, which still sucks; but your associated corporate entity stands to lose a lot too.
There are ways around this from a corporate standpoint but you will have to hire your own attorney to figure that out.
Just something to think about…