Risk management regarding passengers

dfw11411

Pre-takeoff checklist
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dfw11411
Once I earned my PPL and bought a plane, friends (and even people I'd only met once) began asking me to take them up. My personal rule is to be rather non committal and wait until they ask at least one more time. That seems to weed out the casual requests. So far I've only flown with a handful of non-family passengers, but I've become somewhat worried about risk. Our non-aviation insurance policies omit aviation and my aviation policy has a pitifully low amount for medical and liability. I've asked for higher coverage, but it was denied.

Rather than declare a "no pax" rule, I'm thinking of having non-family passengers sign a liability waiver. I suspect that might frighten off everyone! :) Does anyone have experience or knowledge of this for risk management?
 
Talk to your attorney.

Edit, not meaning to put you off but we did (talk to our attorney about it.) It is a risk. But you take it to an extent, just understanding what it is.

Edit again, didn’t ask him about a liability waiver but I’d guess they wouldn’t stand up terribly well in a lawsuit. That’s a good question for any lawyers here, and I’d still talk to your own.

Edit for the last time and then I’m done. This is one of those things you worry less about when you’re young because a) you don’t have as many assets to protect and b) you aren’t worldly aware yet that your future assets are at risk.

Need more coffee so I can collect my thoughts better before posting.
 
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Can you increase the amount in your aircraft policy?
 
You could also look into signing up for the Eagles program with EAA - like young eagles but for adults- you get some coverage from them if you fill the form out pre flight…
 
I never much worried about it either. Nice thing about aviation, it’s often an all or nothing kind of thing. Meaning you all walk away or not and if not, well then….
 
Talk to a lawyer in your state. It's definitely a risk. The management of that risk may involve a bit of discussion around how you may want to hold your exposed assets.
 
Probably the exact opposite direction but maybe fly Young Eagles. Its not my favorite thing...however when I have done it I thought the EAA is then offering coverage for some/all the stuff you are worried about. Hopefully a EAA expert will correct everything I just got wrong.

Why not just make up your own pre-requisites:

1. Always take off full of fuel
2. VFR only
3. No night flight
4. Don't go to known busy non-towered airports or big fly-ins
5. No passenger flights right after any type of mx.
6. Don't take up passengers you don't know very well
7. Don't fly the plane out of annual or with any outstanding AD's
8. Don't fly when tired
9. Have a winds limit
10. Only take up one passenger at a time (and never take up all their kids at once)

....a list like that probably lowers your chances of a screw up significantly. And if something does go wrong you were at least doing all the basics right. It took me quite a while to get comfortable flying passengers at night. Only a few times I have taken up more than one passenger. But I mainly do that because the front is way more interesting than the back.
 
11. Don't fly if Venus has conjugated with Mars
12. Make sure that you sacrifice a goat if there is a question of icing. A chicken won't cut it
13. Don't fly if you've stepped on a pavement crack
14. If you have a black cat, well, pet it
15. Don't have the fish if you're PIC
 
16a. if you have passengers and are about to crash, push them out of the plane first. passenger problem solved.
16b. always carry a backpack that says "parachute" on the back of it. before 16a, hand them that backpack. doesn't really matter if there actually is a parachute in the backpack or not.
 
While I’d probably never have anyone sign anything, I have thought about adding a quick discussion point about Part 91 vs Part 121 in my pax safety briefing.

For me:
1) I don’t take up anyone who I may think can’t handle it (I.e. might freak out, etc)
2) I wait for decent weather, no bumps (for 1st time pax), not IFR
3) I take them on a route that I’ve vetted myself for landing areas, etc
4) I give a full / thorough safety briefing on the ground

My most common 1st pax trip I give is the Chicago skyline tour at night.
 
What are your thoughts on having passengers in your car? Do you let friends enter your private property? At the end of the day, there is liability in anything you do. Now I would probably be a little more conservative in your decision making process when flying if it is concerning you, not launching into hard IMC while VFR to do a hamburger run, etc., but at the end of the day the average GA flight is not that high risk if conducted within the capabilities of the pilot and aircraft.
 
You can try to waiver the passenger, but they're already excited and might even not sue if there's an incident. (lol)

It's the spouse/cousin/kids/friends/distant relatives of the passenger you can't do anything about, and they certainly *will* sue if you barbecue your enthusiastic passenger.

We had a renter take out someone on the ground in a midair. Person was an orphan, but wouldn't you know, some lawyer somewhere in the deep south found some 4th-removed cousin of this poor dude and upon learning the news, she was saddened and only a million dollar check would console her in her loss. By all accounts, she had never met nor even heard of the victim before being contacted by the lawyer.

The pilot of our stricken plane was actually disowned by his parents for pursuing a professional aviation career -- and nastily, actually wished him to crash, he was dead to them, etc. For funeral service, they offered an answering machine where you could leave them a message. The tape was full when I called. Nobody I talked to actually got to leave a message, so suspicions were it was a full tape from the get go. Strangely, though, their representative appeared to take them their million as well.
 
I've had way more decline my unsolicited offers to take them on a flight than people who have solicited a flight from me. The public overestimates the risk. We pilots probably underestimate it.

I like Sinistar's list.
 
I won't take anyone up that isn't 110% thrilled at the chance. (No, 95% thrilled won't cut it.)

If you're somewhat unsure, you can stay on the ground.

I made the mistake once, and the person freaked-out when the wheels left the ground.
 
I've asked for higher coverage, but it was denied.

Just Guessing here, but I suspect the reason you were denied is you don't have enough vulnerable assets to justify you having higher coverage. Often times a primary residence and 401K are not considered vulnerable assets. I suspect Future assets most attorneys are reluctant to go after as it is difficult to collect, but should be considered in the Asset calculation.

Insurance companies don't want to pay out anything more they have to. If you only have $100,000 in assets they can sue for then they don't want to insure for $1,000,000. Doing so just insures that they will be aggressively sued for the maximum amount you are covered for, with every attorney in town fighting over who get to go after it.

Now if you have $1,000,000 in assets and only $100,000 policy the Attorneys are going to say screw taking the $33,000 he and the injured will get from the insurance policy and let's go after the $1,000,000 in assets so he will get $333,000 or more if he wins.

BTW the majority way damage payouts go is the injured gets 1/3, the Attorney gets 1/3, and the injured insurance company takes 1/3 to cover their expenses, Assuming the medical expenses were at least 1/3 of the available payout.
For this reason the best thing you can do for your passenger is make sure they have medical insurance, as it will take the hit if they get injured, even if you had no insurance.

For your protection, you just want to make sure you have enough insurance to make the math simple in the event of an accident. Enough Insurance to take the insurance money and run, instead of them or their insurance company suing for your assets. When they take the insurance money it is on the condition that they won't sue the insured, if they decide to sue then they forfeit the insurance money and that money will likely be used for your defense, but it is not an asset they can go after.

I also agree with previous posters.
If you fly in good VFR days, just do a basic ride flight above 1000AGL then your passenger is about as likely to be injured driving to the airport as they are flying with you.

Of course all of the above should be checked with an Attorney, Financial Advisor, and Insurance agent ( I am non of those) as the above may not apply to your state, financial situation, or insurance and might just be pure hog wash.


Brian
 
You can try to waiver the passenger, but they're already excited and might even not sue if there's an incident. (lol)

It's the spouse/cousin/kids/friends/distant relatives of the passenger you can't do anything about, and they certainly *will* sue if you barbecue your enthusiastic passenger.

We had a renter take out someone on the ground in a midair. Person was an orphan, but wouldn't you know, some lawyer somewhere in the deep south found some 4th-removed cousin of this poor dude and upon learning the news, she was saddened and only a million dollar check would console her in her loss. By all accounts, she had never met nor even heard of the victim before being contacted by the lawyer.

The pilot of our stricken plane was actually disowned by his parents for pursuing a professional aviation career -- and nastily, actually wished him to crash, he was dead to them, etc. For funeral service, they offered an answering machine where you could leave them a message. The tape was full when I called. Nobody I talked to actually got to leave a message, so suspicions were it was a full tape from the get go. Strangely, though, their representative appeared to take them their million as well.

I see why Elon Musk wants to go to Mars
 
I've taken a few passengers in various planes I have owned and, while I considered a waiver, the truth is that the passenger can't sign away the rights of the family to sue if there is an injury or death. I've never really had any concerns with passengers as I try to pick great days, give them a good briefing, and try not to do anything dumb that might frighten them. While most pilots are comfortable with a 60º bank a new passenger may get uneasy at much over 15º of bank.

Only time a passenger was an issue was a guy that a family member wanted me to take for a ride. He was an OK kinda guy but when he got to the airport I noticed his speech wasn't clear and I got close enough to smell the alcohol on him. Told him we wasn't going and he asked why. I told him and he asked if that was a rule. I told him that even if it wasn't that I don't fly people that have been drinking. He was fine with my answer but he never came back and I was fine with that.
 
Not a lawyer, but…

Even if a passenger signs a waiver, it may be difficult to avoid a claim of “negligence” in the event that something goes wrong and someone wants to sue. In such a case, the typical $100k liability sub-limits of light aircraft policies may not be enough, depending on your net worth and/or earnings. In my opinion, it is most likely that lawyers will advise clients to take the easy money and run, rather than risk additional time, effort, and cost pursuing a larger claim which may fail. If your net worth is large enough and your alleged negligence obvious enough, the effort may be worth it, but I suspect that the threshold for both of those things would need to be rather high.

I’d be interested in hearing the opinion of an attorney experienced with liability case law in this area, but I suspect that many of us may be over-thinking this one.
 
I wouldn't fly with a private pilot that asks me to sign a waiver. If for no other reason than it's weird. But I'd also be wondering about their risk management skills.

I think the solution is simple. Don't crash the plane.
 
I don't like taking passengers, except my wife. It's less about liability, and more about being responsible for their safety. Actually, I don't really like taking my wife for the same reason, but she loves to fly.

I was recently asked to take my grandson for an airplane ride. He'll no. At least, not until he's 18 and old enough to make the decision for himself.

The day I auger in, I hope to hell I'm alone.

In the first 18 months of my private pilot training, seven people I knew died in 5 separate accidents. It skewed my perspective on flying and impressed on me the seriousness of it.

My PP training was 30 years ago, but I have never forgotten the loss of so many people. It ingrained in me the seriousness of this passion.
 
I don't like taking passengers, except my wife. It's less about liability, and more about being responsible for their safety. Actually, I don't really like taking my wife for the same reason, but she loves to fly.

I was recently asked to take my grandson for an airplane ride. He'll no. At least, not until he's 18 and old enough to make the decision for himself.

The day I auger in, I hope to hell I'm alone.

In the first 18 months of my private pilot training, seven people I knew died in 5 separate accidents. It skewed my perspective on flying and impressed on me the seriousness of it.

My PP training was 30 years ago, but I have never forgotten the loss of so many people. It ingrained in me the seriousness of this passion.

If you’re thinking you’re going to auger it in, don’t fly.
 
Yes, all the people who auger in thought they were going to do exactly that.

If you concerned enough you limit who you fly with, that’s concerning in itself.
 
If you concerned enough you limit who you fly with, that’s concerning in itself.
People can set limits where they feel comfortable. Nothing wrong with that.

I can fly my taildragger in gusting 40 knots winds. But I don't go ****ting on student pilots that don't want to fly their 172 in 10 knots crosswinds.
 
Just Guessing here, but I suspect the reason you were denied is you don't have enough vulnerable assets to justify you having higher coverage. Often times a primary residence and 401K are not considered vulnerable assets. I suspect Future assets most attorneys are reluctant to go after as it is difficult to collect, but should be considered in the Asset calculation.

Insurance companies don't want to pay out anything more they have to. If you only have $100,000 in assets they can sue for then they don't want to insure for $1,000,000. Doing so just insures that they will be aggressively sued for the maximum amount you are covered for, with every attorney in town fighting over who get to go after it.

Now if you have $1,000,000 in assets and only $100,000 policy the Attorneys are going to say screw taking the $33,000 he and the injured will get from the insurance policy and let's go after the $1,000,000 in assets so he will get $333,000 or more if he wins.

BTW the majority way damage payouts go is the injured gets 1/3, the Attorney gets 1/3, and the injured insurance company takes 1/3 to cover their expenses, Assuming the medical expenses were at least 1/3 of the available payout.
For this reason the best thing you can do for your passenger is make sure they have medical insurance, as it will take the hit if they get injured, even if you had no insurance.

For your protection, you just want to make sure you have enough insurance to make the math simple in the event of an accident. Enough Insurance to take the insurance money and run, instead of them or their insurance company suing for your assets. When they take the insurance money it is on the condition that they won't sue the insured, if they decide to sue then they forfeit the insurance money and that money will likely be used for your defense, but it is not an asset they can go after.

I also agree with previous posters.
If you fly in good VFR days, just do a basic ride flight above 1000AGL then your passenger is about as likely to be injured driving to the airport as they are flying with you.

Of course all of the above should be checked with an Attorney, Financial Advisor, and Insurance agent ( I am non of those) as the above may not apply to your state, financial situation, or insurance and might just be pure hog wash.


Brian
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the truth is that the passenger can't sign away the rights of the family to sue if there is an injury or death.

I read that a lot on these types of threads. Tort law varies by state. While the above may be true in some states, it's not necessarily true in all states. Of course, you can also try to protect yourself from that by requiring the party executing the release indemnify you for the loss of consortium/support claims of their heirs.
 
While the above may be true in some states, it's not necessarily true in all states.

There may be some type of an exception to the rule that I'm not aware of but I'm not betting that anyone will ever have the authority to wave the rights of another person. Just ain't gonna happen in the real world ...
 
There may be some type of an exception to the rule that I'm not aware of but I'm not betting that anyone will ever have the authority to wave the rights of another person. Just ain't gonna happen in the real world ...

Here is but one example:

"The trial court did not err in finding a valid release or waiver by Joyce Hall and granting summary judgment for Gardens Services. Since the right of the husband to recover for consortium is dependent upon the right of the wife to recover, and since on the record before us she cannot recover, he likewise cannot recover." Hall v. Gardens Servs., Inc., 174 Ga. App. 856, 857, 332 S.E.2d 3, 5 (1985).
 
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Here is but one example:

"The trial court did not err in finding a valid release or waiver by Joyce Hall and granting summary judgment for Gardens Services. Since the right of the husband to recover for consortium is dependent upon the right of the wife to recover, and since on the record before us she cannot recover, he likewise cannot recover. Hall v. Gardens Servs., Inc., 174 Ga. App. 856, 857, 332 S.E.2d 3, 5 (1985).

:dunno:

I don't see where the husband or wife signed away the rights of the other ...
 
Here's another:

Here, the injured husband, by signing the release, entered into a contract expressly agreeing to participate in an undertaking posing known risk. He assumed the risk and evidenced that assumption by signing the release. The husband thus previously abandoned the right to complain if an accident occurred. 57 Am.Jur.2d Negligence § 276, at 667 (1971). There can be no actionable negligence where no duty was owed to the person injured. 57 Am.Jur.2d Negligence § 277, at 668. Even though loss of consortium has been held a separate, independent, nonderivative action of the deprived spouse and not affected by the negligence of the impaired spouse, Christie v. Maxwell, 40 Wash.App. 40, 44, 696 P.2d 1256 (1985), nevertheless, an element of this cause of action is the “tort committed against the ‘impaired’ spouse”. Lund, 100 Wash.2d at 744, 675 P.2d 226. Moreover, a consortium claim by a lone spouse will not be recognized where the underlying tort has been prohibited or abolished. Lund, at 747, 675 P.2d 226.

Here, because of the release, no cause of action arose from which a court could conclude a tort had been committed upon Mr. Conradt. Therefore, an element of the consortium claim was lacking and summary judgment dismissal was proper.​

Conradt v. Four Star Promotions, Inc., 45 Wash. App. 847, 853, 728 P.2d 617, 621–22 (1986)
 
People can set limits where they feel comfortable. Nothing wrong with that.

I can fly my taildragger in gusting 40 knots winds. But I don't go ****ting on student pilots that don't want to fly their 172 in 10 knots crosswinds.

Maybe for a student pilot

For a normal PIC, if you’re not confident enough to fly the most important person on earth, probably should scrub the flight.
 
What are your thoughts on having passengers in your car? Do you let friends enter your private property? At the end of the day, there is liability in anything you do. Now I would probably be a little more conservative in your decision making process when flying if it is concerning you, not launching into hard IMC while VFR to do a hamburger run, etc., but at the end of the day the average GA flight is not that high risk if conducted within the capabilities of the pilot and aircraft.

The difference might be if you have much higher liability limits for auto insurance or umbrella insurance that excludes aviation. But you’re right, there is liability in everything.
 
Not a lawyer, but…

Even if a passenger signs a waiver, it may be difficult to avoid a claim of “negligence” in the event that something goes wrong and someone wants to sue. In such a case, the typical $100k liability sub-limits of light aircraft policies may not be enough, depending on your net worth and/or earnings. In my opinion, it is most likely that lawyers will advise clients to take the easy money and run, rather than risk additional time, effort, and cost pursuing a larger claim which may fail. If your net worth is large enough and your alleged negligence obvious enough, the effort may be worth it, but I suspect that the threshold for both of those things would need to be rather high.

I’d be interested in hearing the opinion of an attorney experienced with liability case law in this area, but I suspect that many of us may be over-thinking this one.

Each state has laws pertaining to liability waivers. Some have really strong laws and some weaker laws. Liability waivers pertaining to minors can become problematic in some states.

A liability waiver provides protection against negligence, it won’t provide protection against gross negligence. Gross negligence is severe breach of duty as to constitute recklessness, wanton endangerment of others, maliciousness, fraud or intent to harm.

A liability waiver won’t stop you from being sued. It is up to the court if the waiver is enforceable. The scuba industry is the king of liability waivers and they work reasonably well for that industry.
 
:dunno:

I don't see where the husband or wife signed away the rights of the other ...

Not sure what you are saying. The court tossed the husband's claim as a matter of law because the wife signed a waiver releasing any claim of her own.
 
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Not sure what you are saying. The court tossed the husband's claim as a matter of law because the wife signed a waiver.

Perhaps there is an exception to the rule. I know a number of folks that would not have let that one get by them.

I'm not a lawyer ... so I'll stop here before I get myself banned.
 
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