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Old Fri Nov 03, 2006, 11:49am
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Protecting myself

As I understand it, by being a member of NFHS that my dues insure me against any litigation should a kid get hurt or whatever during a game. Does this protection extend to Pee-wee or the local Semi-pro games? If not where/how should I protect myself?
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Old Fri Nov 03, 2006, 12:06pm
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No it doesn't. Only federation sanctioned contests are covered
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Old Fri Nov 03, 2006, 12:29pm
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You need to look into the National Association of Sports Official (NASO). This is the group with the expanded insurance package.
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Old Sat Nov 04, 2006, 09:25pm
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Also check with your local association because they may have a policy that you're covered under.

I know my association has coverage for any game that is assigned through them, or any sanctioned league. This includes high-school, minor, semi-pro, college, ect...

So one policy for all my needs, however you can never have too much coverage.
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups
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Old Sat Nov 04, 2006, 11:47pm
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Originally Posted by BigFarns
As I understand it, by being a member of NFHS that my dues insure me against any litigation should a kid get hurt or whatever during a game. Does this protection extend to Pee-wee or the local Semi-pro games? If not where/how should I protect myself?
I hope an attorney who reads this board can provide an update but even with insurance coverage, you could be found liable for something if the courts find you negligent. For example, if you are aware an administrator or the band is on the edge of the field during a game and do nothing about it and a player goes into them causing an injury, you could be found negligent. If there was a lawsuit I believe the insurance would cover you but this doesn't remove the responsibility to manage that situation properly.
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Old Sun Nov 05, 2006, 10:02pm
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Most of what was written in the above post is untrue. The reason you have insurance coverage (if you do) is to protect you in the case of (usually) a suit. I guess in certain situations, one could file a claim or make a demand and there could be a pre-suit settlement, but in the case of on-field issues, I don't think that's likely.

Your insurance coverage, provided its even halfway complete, provides both the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify on the part of the insurance company. In layman's terms, that means they pay your lawyer's bills and a money judgment if you lose the suit. There are some restrictions, however. Many policies will only pay a portion of the legal fees and also have a cap on the damages they will pay. A one million dollar policy will only pay one million dollars per occurance (don't get me started on those definitions). Some of the policies I've seen for officials cap the legal fees at 3 grand. That's not very much, and is likely only half of what the minimum would be if you are sued and it goes to trial.

The reason you are sued is because you are alleged to be negligent. Insurance coverage doesn't evaporate due to negligence; on the contrary, it kicks in BECAUSE you were negligent. If you aren't negligent, there's no cause of action and no damages: i.e. you win! Negligence is almost certainly the basis of any court action against an official.

I could get into a whole dissertation of what sorts of events can get you in trouble, but it varies state to state. I practice in Texas, where the tort laws and upheld court findings make a lot more sense than they do in, say, Washington state (to name one place). I've researched cases out of various states and I've seen fact situations that are clearly no-win in Texas win big there. So, I won't comment specifically. However, there are a few things I do (hint) to protect myself from getting sued:

1. As a previous assignment secretary liked to say, "Take care of business." What that means is I do my job, including pregame, administrative duties, start on time, finish appropriately, etc.
2. Don't do dumb things. If my field has a lightning meter, if it goes off, I suspend the game. PERIOD. I don't let a coach harrass me about it. I get off the field and tell the teams to get off. I don't stay on the field because just because I think we can finish the game quickly.
3. Don't do dumb things, part II: allowing illegal equipment is a good way to get in trouble. Spiked bracelets are no-brainers, but if I have ANY question about the safety of equipment, I don't allow it. Be polite, if possible, but firm.
4. I follow stated guidelines (state association rules, mechanics, Fed/NCAA rules) as closely as possible on things that might get me in trouble.

Frankly, you are more likely to get assaulted in your officiating career than sued, but its always a good idea to stay protected.
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Old Mon Nov 06, 2006, 01:51am
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If you are referring to my post I guess I wasn't clear. I agree with your points that the insurance covers you as you described but most people don't realize the extent of their responsibility. Enforcing some of the safety and non-player issues are important as they prevent such issues from occuring. They are very rare but you are in much better position if you've followed the things pointed out by Texas Aggie. Some of it is common sense but it's good to be more aware.

Thank you so much for the info!! I think we are all better because of it!
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