The Death of Desert Racing?

EQuin

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Whoa. How did this thread turn into lawyer hating? How's that saying go? "Don't hate the playas, hate the game." Or better yet, the famous quote from Shakespeare, "First, let's kill all the lawyers." Shakespeare's famous line was actually a compliment to lawyers. It's orator in Shakespeare's play wanted to cause anarchy, and since the lawyers helped maintain law and order in society, one of the strategies was to get rid of the lawyers.

As you can tell from my bio, I'm a lowly government lawyer. I've been practicing law for over 10 years. I've never done plaintiff's personal injury or insurance defense, though. All I've done is environmental, immigration, family and consumer law - from representing an old, weathered cowboy with a broken back trying to get his social security disability benefits, to representing the government prosecuting drug traffickers and alien smugglers in immigration court and negotiating agreements with responsible parties to clean up hazardous waste sites. Alot of the negative perception of lawyers stems from TV shows, movies, gaudy attorney ads on late night TV and, of course, a few bad apple attorneys. But what profession doesn't have bad apples? You have bad doctors, bad cops, bad fabricators, bad welders, bad french fry makers and the list goes on and on.

One of the things that makes this country the greatest in the world is that some low-paid "David" can take on a huge, powerful, corporate "Goliath," or even a bigger Goliath, the government, for instance, and not be thrown in jail, tortured, exiled or shot for doing so. Brown v. Board of Education - the landmark case that some little "David" brought against the government to end the segregationist educational system in the Jim Crow South of yesteryear. And the lawyer who represented the plaintiff? A previously unknown legal genius who later went on to become a Supreme Court Justice. Or what about one of the greatest Presidents in the United States who saved our country from being destroyed by division? Yep, honest Abe Lincoln was a lawyer doing the kind of work most other honest sole practitioners do today - real estate closings, landlord/tenant contracts, defending someone's son or daughter who got in trouble with the law, and even an occasional tort/personal injury case.

Most lawyers are not the "ambulance chasing" money-grabbers that some perceive them to be. Sure, there are a few cases that stand out in the media that may give the perception that some shrewd, wily plaintiff's lawyer pulled a fast one on some ignorant jury in order to win a multi-million dollar settlement. The truth of the matter is that these type of cases are far and few between, and the appellate courts are more than willing to overturn any judgment that does not stand on the merits of the law.

As for frivolous lawsuits being filed all too often? The judges are too overworked and understaffed to deal with frivolous lawsuits. They are more than happy, willing and able to throw out a frivolous lawsuit and order the attorney who filed it to pay a huge fine for doing so, not to mention reporting that attorney to the bar's disciplinary committee to have his license suspended or permanently disbarred. Of course, the media never mentions that, and the public never really cares to know about it anyway.

To some lay persons, what appears to be a frivolous lawsuit is in fact one with a genuine, meritorious legal issue that needs resolution. Instead of bombing, killing, disrupting and destroying an opponent with whom you have a dispute, our country resolves disputes peacefully and civilly in a court of law. Anyone seen the movie "Black Hawk Down"? The state of affairs in Somalia at the time was a nightmarish, wholly uncivilized society whose system of dispute resolution was to kill and destroy opponents with violence. It was a system of violent anarchy which resulted in the total breakdown of the little infrastructure left in that country to the point where its populous was left starving to death. Rather than resort to such violent means that eventually lead to anarchy, our country derives part of its strength on the peaceful and civil resolution of disputes in the greatest legal system in the world. It may not be a perfect system, and there's always room for improvement, but it's the best there is in my humble opinion.

Oops. Didn't mean to ramble on for so long. What does this have to do with the racers' insurance crisis? Nothing, I admit. I know nothing about the insurance industry, but according to my latest USAA automobile insurance statement, the poor showing in the stock market the past year and a half has deeply cut into insurance industry investments and finances. Plus, the September 11 terrorist attacks coupled with a higher than normal number of natural disasters in the form of hurricanes, fires, floods, etc., has helped to weaken insurance profits even further. I believe this is the reason many insurance companies have been raising their rates in everything from auto insurance to homeowners' insurance.

Anyway, just thought I'd respectfully share my humble, personal opinion on the issue. Take care,


Ed Q.
 

pjc

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Instead of an LLC, why not a C or S corporation?

It's damn hard to go past the corporate veil in Nevada and persue the shareholders. Hell, a lot of times it's nearly impossible to even find out who the shareholders are.

PJCinLV
 

jcorsico

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Using any type of corporate structure (S corp, C corp, LLC, LLP, etc.) will only partially shield assets because the personal assets of the individual committing the tort will always be reachable. For example, if a Fed-Ex driver runs over a child crossing the street, two parties can be sued separately: the Fed-Ex company can be sued, and also the driver in a personal sense can be sued.

So in the racing context, the personal assets of the driver (and possibly the co-driver, mechanics, and others who may be responsible for the accident) will always be on the line, no matter how the race team is structured. So if Ed Herbst runs over a spectator, Terrible Herbst Racing LLC will be sued and possibly wiped out, Ed Herbst in a personal capacity will be sued and possibly wiped out, and Mike Smith in his personal capacity (or through his company, or both) may be sued and wiped out too.

Thus, this obviously is a huge issue, especially for wealthy racers. Risking your helicopter, your two houses, and your children’s college educations on the chance you hit somebody isn’t comforting.

Jon
 

firedog

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All this CRAP!! about not beng able to be insured is such B.S.!!! If everyone would be heald accountable for their decisions then it wouldn't be a problem!! If your of sound mind and body to stand too close to a race course and get injured or killed (for whatever reason) then it's your own damn fault!!, not mine!!! Unfortunatually there are people who are always looking for the "easy way" out. The lawyers pressure these people into the "easy way" for an extra buck, for the plantiff and the lawyer alike. And all you lawyer people don't try and tell me different because I know the truth!!! Hopefully this situation can be resolved soon, If rally cars can be isured then off-road racing vehicles shouldn't be a problem, the rally fans are way more crazy and in more dangerous spots. Juat my .02 cents, and like Jason said before we are going to be an LLC soon, and we don't have enough $$$ for anyone to sue us and get anything.
 

Sites

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" If rally cars can be isured then off-road racing vehicles shouldn't be a problem, the rally fans are way more crazy and in more dangerous spots."

It sounds like your referring to the stuff you see in WRC Rally Racing, of which all of the circuits take place in Europe, Africa and Australia -- NONE in the US. These are all countries where most of the population lives in poverty and/or citizens assume responsibility for their actions (i.e. you stand next to a race course and get hurt or killed, its your fault.)

94' Lightning Prerunner (in-progress)
 

RacnCPA

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Actually it's good to see a lawyer on this board. Thanks for your input. I appreciate it, don't know about the rest.

Sc
 

EQuin

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Hmm, I thought I posted a reply to you last night, but I guess it never made it. Anyway, thanks for the kind words, Sheryl! Good to also see a CPA on this forum!

My homeowners insurance rate went up this year. So I was hoping to join in the usual fun of internet bashing an easy target - the insurance industry - a scapegoat favorite for us working stiffs. Instead, I found myself defending my own profession after reading all the lawyer bashing - an admittedly equal scapegoat favorite! Well, they said it would be a thankless job. Nothing but love! And as the group Godmsack once sang, I guess I "stand alone" on this thread! LOL

Take care,




Ed Q.
 

Sites

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Actually, in regards to insurance prices going up. There was a story about insurance companies raising prices to rediculous levels on either Dateline or 48 Hours a few weeks ago. Everyone (except the insurance companies) was claiming that it was due to the decline in the stock market and all of the money lost that was invested by the insurance companies. Apparently the losses are being transferred directly to the consumers.

94' Lightning Prerunner (in-progress)
 

EQuin

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Yes, my own homeowners insurance company (USAA - also my auto insurance carrier) sent me their annual statement with their financial condition. This past year was a little rougher than the rest, and they explained that the massive losses in the stock market were the biggest reason for their decision to raise rates. They also explained that there have been a higher number of damage claims resulting from what they claim to be more frequent and devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods and other weather related disasters these past years. Well, those were the reasons they gave in their statement and letter explaining the rate increases. I guess it correlates to the Dateline/48 hours program you saw a few weeks ago.

Take care,

Ed Q.

Ed Q.
 

rt_racer

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John- I too am a giver so come to my shop and I will leave the floor jack out . You trip and bust your but then sue me and we can team up in TT for a year or 2.
 

Dave_G

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Ed,
I have to agree with you that there are some bad lawyers out there that cause the legitimate lawyers grief. Let's face it, everyone hates lawyers until they need one to fight for them. I have on numerous occasions hired lawyers to do things such as set up my corporation, generate partnership agreements, purchase commercial property and yes, even file a lawsuit against some crooked scum bags that defrauded me in a real estate transaction. (I won by the way and got my money back.) In any event, I still hate the ambulance chaser bottom feeders but have great respect for the true professionals that do their job with professionalism and integrity.

Sorry this post has turned into a lawyer bashing thread. With that said, lets get back to discussing how to get the racers insured so we can all enjoy seeing them do what they do best.

RACE!

Dave

"I know it all, but I can't remember most of it..."
 

EQuin

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Thanks for the kind words, Dave! Yeah, those late-night attorney ads and cheesy attorney billboards on the freeways don't help things, either.

But yes, I couldn't agree more, focus should be made more on the current racers' insurance crisis rather than lawyer bashing. I've never worked in the insurance industry, nor do I know anything about it. So I have no idea what could be done to help the situation. I'm sure this hurts not only the racers, but it must also hurt the promoters. Perhaps the racers should organize and get together with the promoters about this crisis. Maybe choose a representative or two to meet with the common insurance carriers in the racing industry and find out why they're proposing to drop the coverage. If it's a matter of liability towards potential spectators, maybe the group (racers and promoters) could propose the signing of waivers of liability by spectators before they can go near the course to spectate. I would guess it would have to be coordinated with the BLM as well. I don't know. I'm not at all familiar with the process and the off-road racing industry. I'm just a humble spectator and fan of off-road racing whose only recourse is to keep up with the sport from afar via the internet and TV.

What about those who race in the CORR series? Or those who race in the SCCA? Do they have insurance problems? I remember a recent SCCA Pro-Rally race a few hours from Dallas that was held at an Army Reserve base. The Army had a course map marking the areas where spectators could watch and areas where spectators were prohibited from being at. My guess is that this was done for spectator liability purposes. I'm sure that some kind of insurance was obtained by both the Army and the racers before the event could take place. I don't know, though.

Take care,

Ed Q.



Ed Q.
 

Dave_G

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I just received word from one of the TT teams that they think they have the insurance problem handled as of this afternoon.

Hey Steve, can you confirm this for me? Are you making progress?

Dave

"I know it all, but I can't remember most of it..."
 

SANDlessNSeattle

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OK now I just want to say I attended an SCCA Pro Rally event here in Washington last September most of what I could tell was on Corporate owed land (Simpson)...The spectator area's were marked, you had to park away from the " coarse'' and walk to place where you could see.....All controlled with rally officials and everthing that has been mentioned...AND here is the promblem...The Spectator who walks up puts his cooler down cracks his 13th beer sits on said cooler that has been strategically placed.....for the best viewer enjoyment on the OUTSIDE OF A TURN!!!! less than 10 feet from the edge of the road...Now as an ex offroad hero I already know as we all do that this is generally not the best place to spectate from.....And the official kinda knows this also so he informs BillyBob that he should pick a new spot for safety reasons...BB now has to argue with the official for 45 min...then reluctantly moves his fat drunken a$$ to higher ground, all the while with every beer a new comment on how the official is ruining his rally experience........... the bottom line - nobody is responsible for your actions but you - just my three cents worth.....

Start drinking till you see double and act single
 

BlueCoyote

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As someone who works in the insurance industry - here are some insites
It takes capital to write new business. The bigger the policy or the bigger the risk, the more capital needed in reserve.
The fall in the stock market has meant a reduction in capital. The wealth on paper has gone away.
Many companies are getting away from the capital intensive lines of business. Those that stay are raising rates. Underwriters are getting very skiddish. Afraid to take on the big risks - often at any price.
When money (capital) is tight - the market gets hard. Prices rise, carriers dump business or only write the high profit lines.
I see this occur every day.
So what is the answer?
Try to find who will still write coverage - be sure and share the info - a broker with a good book has more leverage with a carrier. And if a broker brings good business - the carrier may stick around
Many municipalities, school districts belong to an insurance pool - where everyone involved pays in a certain amount of money. No losses, the only costs are administation. Money can be carreid over. Same as with large companies that are self insured.
Have races on indian land - as often tribal law is much differnet.
Will this work for Off road racing - who knows.
And for lawyers - I have great respect for the proffessionals but hate the bottom feeding BI ambulance chasers. However it is fun to watch them and crooked Chiro's get busted.

Who are you calling Coyote ugly?
84 Toyota p/u Rokrawlr
86 4rnr
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RacnCPA

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Thanks for the info Blue. I was wondering when someone from the industry was going to step up and give us some input. So now we've bashed the lawyers and insurance agents, what profession is next, LOL.

Sc
 

JCA

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CPA's J/K lol lol lol J/k


Hey I need to call you and set up a meet date!

J.C. Andrews
Andrews Racing
www.andrewsracing.com
 

Steve_Sourapas

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Dave,here's what I know at this time.We believe we have found an insurance company that will write up to 3 million dollars of coverage for Score races and select other events.All I have done is filled out an application at this point so lets hope for the best.I still have a few other good opportunities if this doesn't work out but I'm much more optimistic than I was a couple days ago.It's never over til the fat lady sings!

BEERMAN
 

Dave_G

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Re:"We believe we have found an insurance company that will write up to 3 million dollars of coverage for Score races"

Steve,
That's great. I was pounding the phones yesterday and turned @ave on to a couple of sources that said they could write coverage including my commercial insurance broker. Hang in there, it probably won't be as cheap a premium as you once had but it's better than parking the TT and watching from the grand stands. ;-)

Good luck,

Dave

"I know it all, but I can't remember most of it..."
 
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