Towns Ban Sledding for Lawsuits’ Sake

From Des Moines, Iowa to Hamilton, Ontario, towns are banning tobogganing and/or sledding, for fear of both injuries and lawsuits. The yssakttskn
Associated Press
lists towns in Nebraska, Indiana, and New Jersey that have banned the sport, although most American and Canadian towns DO still allow it.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes people get hurt sledding. The article quotes a brain surgeon who treated a young woman paralyzed for life in a sledding accident. A story like that makes me ache with sadness and terror. And then there’s the fact that some children have died in sledding accidents, too.

Imagining the grief that ensued, it’s hard to consider letting any kid get on any snow conveyance again. And yet, the same is true of biking, skiing (I had an editor who died in a ski accident), skateboarding…  Time to outlaw all those?

The sledding death numbers are not large: Seven people killed over the course of four years — 2003 to 2007 — in Canada. But when we live in a society that believes there is always someone (a town) or something (a law) to blame for fate, the towns are understandably terrified of giant lawsuits.

Ironically, Hamilton — the town that outlawed sledding — was sued by a man who suffered a spinal injury while (illegally) sledding there. The town had to pay $900,000! In a case like that, I’d like to sue the court: Come on. Is there no such thing as bad luck or personal responsibility?

Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits, said Kenneth Bond, a New York lawyer who represents local governments. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.

“Whenever possible” is the problem. If we believe that “whenever possible” = “imagining all possible dangers, no matter how remote, and actively preventing them all, all the time, even by drastic decrees,” then we get a society that puts 100% safety above any other cause, including fairness, convenience, exercise, rationality — and delight.

While the no-sledding towns sound like killjoys. perhaps the issue is really us, unable to hold these two ideas in our brain at once: Sledding is fun and, once in a long while, deadly. Sled at your own risk. – L

Ban this?

Ban this?


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53 Responses to Towns Ban Sledding for Lawsuits’ Sake

  1. V January 5, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    I saw a “teaser” about this on the news yesterday and thought of you! A friend broke her leg 3 places, requiring surgery, when sledding at age 16. I was there and it was pretty darned awful, but I still allow my daughter to sled. Three kids in my high school died in an car crash, but I don’t see anybody trying to ban driving—we’ve really become horrid at risk assessment.

  2. Colin Summers January 5, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    When I was a tot my brother and sister went out during a blizzard and sledded down the nearby hill. It was a road. We were on Flexible Flyers. It was Haverford, PA, a small college town where my uncle and aunt lived. We were ten inches off the road surface, at night, flashing in and out of the streetlight’s pools of light. I remember a few times we steered toward the curb because we heard a car coming down behind us or one laboring up toward us.

    We lived.

  3. Kimberly Herbert January 5, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    My sister broke both knees skiing 10 years ago. Guess what they are doing on Spring Break. Last year my nephew scared my BIL half to death, by skiing onto an area with jumps of some sort. He landed fine, and had apparently been doing it all week with his older cousins (he was 6 cousin was 13).

    My sister broke a wrist falling out of a tree. The kids still climb.

    They are also allowed to go to the bathroom – sis broke her wrist flipping on wet floor in door bathroom.

    They get to walk through the living room (Sis tripped and broke her leg)

    They can get in the hot tub at their grandparent’s ski house – sis broke her foot stepping exactly wrong on the edge of some tile.

    They also ride horses – Sis got thrown but just bruised her collar bone.

    They do penny drops – and our cousin broke her collar bone doing that.

    Honestly if we kept the current crop from doing things that landed us in the ER – they would have bed sores. Things must be somewhat safer because even with the ER trips for severe reactions to fire ants and other insect bites they are way behind our records.

  4. Warren January 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Screw em and go sledding anyway. Take the ticket, and then have your day in court, to say your piece. Just make sure that you invite as much press, and as many people you know that have sledded there before.

    Make the city look like complete jerks, for picking on the kids.

  5. gina January 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    Kimberly..You had me laughing out loud! It’s a wonder your sister is here to even HAVE kids!!! I hear you though…my 5 kids have had only a few broken bones and a few sets of stitches…they just aren’t doing it right!
    As for this law…I agree with Warren (Gasp!). Sometimes laws that are wrong need to be broken to be changed.

  6. brian January 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    To add to Warren’s comment, also publicly shame and shun anyone who sues your community for similar offenses. These people should be treated as the enemy that they are. You want to know why I won’t let my kid talk to yours? “Because you might sue me again (you animal) like when you sued the town of which I am a taxpayer.”

  7. Jill January 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    I once got my arm run over by a toboggan while sledding in a cemetery. My parents didn’t sue anybody. Life went on. It was a simpler time.

  8. DaveS January 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    When I was a kid one of our favorite things to do was hitch a saucer sled to the back of a 3-wheeled ATV and be pulled around our back yard full of trees.

    Dad of course drove us around a bit more wisely than we drove each other, but no matter who was driving, if we ever found ourselves heading for a tree, we just rolled off the sled.

    Loads of fun.

  9. BL January 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    “In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible”

    You mean those bad old days when we didn’t have to consult a lawyer and get a government permit just to blow our nose?

  10. Brooks January 5, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    We don’t have a safety problem in this country. We have a lawyer and insurance underwriter problem. One of my contributions to our society is not to support any efforts by either of my kids to ever become a lawyer. And their grandmother is one and agrees!

    On a more serious note, having been in the inpatient rehabilitation business for about 15 years, I’ve learned that most serious accidents happen when people go where they shouldn’t to do an activity – off the prescribed trail during a motocross ride, outside of the authorized snow skiing area, etc. Cities that want to mitigate risk should have areas deemed safe for sledding. Any areas deemed not safe should be a rider’s own risk and stand firm if sued. It will only take a few cities to stand firm to reverse the trend. But their lawyers and insurance companies always want them to give in. Less expensive they say. Scam I say.

  11. Mark January 5, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Let the police come…give my 6 year old a sledding ticket and then you have given him a reason to hate cops…

  12. Abigail January 5, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    I’m inclined to agree with @Brooks! We need to stop with the litigation! The assumption that every outcome is manageable is ridiculous. Blame cannot and should not be assigned every time accidents, tragedies, or unforseen consequences arise. But here we are, if you can assign fault, then you can prevent misfortune from striking those near and dear – perception of control.

  13. John January 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    Quote: “We don’t have a safety problem in this country. We have a lawyer and insurance underwriter problem.”

    I definitely agree with you there Brook. Too damn many Lawyers! But my question is, why doesn’t a Judge throw these lawsuits out on the basis of personal responsibility? If more Judges did this it might discourage greedy and vindictive people from filing these lawsuits and greedy Lawyers from pursuing them. Can any legal person here help me out with this question? Donna?

  14. Elin January 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

    Sled away but wear a helmet if possible, it does help prevent most of the worst injuries. A school friend of mine went in to tree head first at high speed on a sled and the helmet split in two but he was fine. Also, make sure the kids know how to stop the sled or throw themselves off the sled, that is usually less dangerous than staying on if the speed is high and the sled is out of control.

    With all my safety advice, I have gone down ski slopes and winding car roads with a sled without a helmet several times as a child and once had a near miss with a car on a road. I loved sledding as a child and my daughter will definitely be able to go sledding (wearing a helmet) later this winter but so far we have only let her go on the sled to the store with me pulling it but that was fun too. I think this weekend will be a sledding weekend now that I think of it…

  15. Papilio January 5, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    “Ironically, Hamilton — the town that outlawed sledding — was sued by a man who suffered a spinal injury while (illegally) sledding there. The town had to pay $900,000!”

    WHAT?! What was Hamilton supposed to do here – clean all hills in/near the town from snow to prevent people from sledding down them??!!

    “In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible”

    Like what, the danger of a tax raise? Otherwise it doesn’t sound very American to me… (Should I duck for cover now?)

  16. Donna January 5, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    “We don’t have a safety problem in this country. We have a lawyer and insurance underwriter problem.”

    There isn’t a lawyer or even an insurance underwriter problem. We have a fear of death/injury problem and a refusal to accept that accidents happen problem.

    The number of lawyers who actively seek out clients for lawsuits is minuscule and almost exclusively limited to large class action suits, not lawyers involved in single-person sledding accidents. I guarantee you with almost 100% certainty that the lawyer who handled the sled lawsuit didn’t go hunting for the client and beg him to sue; the client came to him demanding to sue.

    Why did the sledder want to sue? It could be that he had a real reason to sue (yes, people, they do exist) and the government did something wrong. Or it could be that nobody believes that anything is an accident anymore. If you get hurt or killed, it MUST be because someone did something wrong. If you don’t think you did anything wrong; it MUST be someone else.

    I am not a personal injury lawyer, but from a pure make-a-living standpoint, I can see why they take cases that make us go “huh?” Since so much of the US believes that someone ALWAYS must be at fault if there is an injury of any kind, there is a good chance they will win the lawsuit. Very, very few lawyers make tons of money. Most are barely scraping by, and they wouldn’t even be that if they turned away a bunch of winning cases. Nor can they afford to turn all their winning cases over to their competitors. Since sled-guy wants to sue, sled-guy will find a lawyer who needs money enough to sue for him. Your refusal of the case just costs you income without stopping the suit at all. This is exactly why I don’t want to be a personal injury lawyer.

    And, frankly, lawyers, judges and juries are members of society – no smarter or more enlightened than anyone else. It is incredulous to me the amount of time people here point to the general crazy thoughts of society as to safety and then expect lawyers, judges and juries to somehow feel differently. If the majority of people in the world think someone is always to blame, then the majority of lawyers, judges and juries will believe it to.

  17. lollipoplover January 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    “Towns ban sledding” makes me think of the movie Footloose and how they banned dancing. I have images of Kevin Bacon giving a great speech to make these towns rethink these crazy bans….

    Maybe we can figure out a way to ban this horribly dangerous material that kills: Snow. We are expecting some tomorrow. I’m sure someone will die in a weather related traffic accident. Where’s the outrage????

  18. steve hangen January 5, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Next they’ll ban hearts. People around the world are dying everday from heart attacks.

  19. Maggie January 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    My 3 yr old son managed to split his lip while sitting on the sofa reaching for a cracker.

    Let’s ban sofas and crackers.

  20. Anne January 5, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    How many people will die from obesity related diseases for lack of exercise? How many Northern children will feel more depressed, lonely, bored and hyperactive being cooped up inside during the long cold winters? And how much will that cost society in the long run? (sigh)” <a title="The causal loop of rising healthcare costs" href="href="

  21. Melanie January 5, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    I agree that it is more of an unreasonable fear problem than a lawyer, law, insurance problem. We live in a society that is fairly removed from death, so we fear it. We see it on tv and the Internet in a very sensationalized fashion. It wasn’t that long ago, in the grand scheme of time at least, that a fair portion of parents dealt with the death of a child. Bringing children into the world was risky, and keeping them alive, even more risky. They saw death; they held death; and they persevered, because if they did not, their entire family might literally die. Death is incredibly difficult, but we seem to have lost sight of the fact that it is inevitable for each and every one of us. Speaking from experience, as I have held my deceased daughter in my arms, no amount of money, blame or anger will bring a child back or fix a broken body. We can choose to move forward and live life, or live in fear.

  22. Emily January 5, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    How is it even possible to ban sledding? I mean, sure, you can have a by-law against it, but you can’t get rid of it altogether, short of flattening all the hills, and destroying everything that could possibly be used as a sled, including inner tubes, inflatable boats, cardboard boxes, cafeteria trays, and garbage bags, to name just a few things. In fact, if the hill is icy enough, you don’t even need any kind of sled to slide…..or, what about just running and sliding on patches of ice? That’s much more dangerous than sledding, because you do it standing up, and you have to balance. Since the police can’t be everywhere all the time, some people might decide that sledding is worth risking a fine (since there’s no guarantee that they’ll get caught), and because of that, I just don’t see this ban lasting for any length of time.

  23. Puzzled January 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

    No, we don’t have a lawyer or lawsuit problem. We have a fear of lawsuit problem. Just as people unreasonably overreact to things like kidnappings “A child was kidnapped 20 states away! My kid can’t go outside!” so too towns react to the rather rare bizarre lawsuit by saying “OMG we’re going to get sued!” Businesses do likewise.

    We also have a generalized inability to understand (as opposed to do) basic math and statistics. We have a society that doesn’t look at a neurosurgeon like this one and say “well, yes, a neurosurgeon would see something like that, but what does it tell us about the incidence of such things happening?” Heck, people don’t even ask “how hard did they have to look to find a neurosurgeon who had treated a patient like this…and how much easier would it be to find one who treated a patient after a car accident?”

    We also have, as Donna said, a generalized and rather insane belief that nothing should ever go wrong.

    Another problem: The lawyer quoted was right, people do expect government to eliminate all dangers. (Although he’s historically wrong about the west and how wild it was…and given what he pictures the Wild West being like…how does he manage to put sledding in that category?) This is a bad thing, and also rather bizarre, given the inability of government to protect people from, oh, I don’t know, being choked to death by public employees for failure to obey an order, among other hazards.

  24. MOBK January 6, 2015 at 1:24 am #

    “unable to hold these two ideas in our brain at once: Sledding is fun and, once in a long while, deadly.”

    For sure that is part of it. Cognitive dissonance!

  25. Jaak January 6, 2015 at 6:07 am #

    Yes – the lawyers as competitive free actors are not in a good position to stop people who want to sue somebody.

    It is the juries, judges and legislators who can stop frivolous lawsuits and fear thereof. First make sure that these lawsuits lose. And provide a sufficient incentive for people to not bring such suits in the first place. A personal injury lawyer faced with a distressed plaintiff should have incentive to turn away a case likely to lose – such as the prospect of being on the hook to pay defendant´s court costs if the plaintiff is unable to do so.

    And the people and institutions afraid of getting sued should be assured that if they are right, they would win, get reasonable costs, and because of such factors, would be unlikely to be sued in the first place.

  26. Donna January 6, 2015 at 7:16 am #

    “A personal injury lawyer faced with a distressed plaintiff should have incentive to turn away a case likely to lose”

    Lawyers already have plenty of incentive to turn away cases likely to lose. These types of cases are taken on a contingency basis – meaning that the lawyer doesn’t get a penny if his client doesn’t win. And they front a lot of money for the client – filing fees, deposition fees, transcript fees, medical record fees, witness fees, creating trial exhibits. If a client loses, they are not only out many hours of their time but thousands of dollars of their own money.

    Again, contrary to popular belief, most lawyers are not rich. Your average personal injury lawyer only nets around 40-70k a year; a good income on the high end, but far from grand. This picture people seem to have of lawyers rolling in money really just represents a very small portion of lawyers. The vast majority of lawyers are just making a middle-of-the-road middle class income, if that. They can’t afford to take a bunch of loser cases. They only take cases they think they can win.

    “It is the juries, judges and legislators who can stop frivolous lawsuits and fear thereof. First make sure that these lawsuits lose.”

    Until society changes, this will not either. Can somebody please explain to me the cognitive dissonance that causes you to simultaneously insist that (a) society has an unreasonable fear of injury and desire to blame, (b) juries and judges cannot possibly have this same fear of injury and desire to blame? Do you think judges and juries are pod people, existing outside of society such that they can never experience the same fears and beliefs of the rest of society?

    Jurors and judges are your neighbors and your parents and your siblings. They are nothing special. They have no special knowledge or ability or insight into the world. They walk in the door of the courtroom with the same beliefs, fears and irrationalities as everyone. They are nothing more than a microcosm of the world around them. In communities that are more free range, I would expect more free range juries. In communities that tend to the helicopter, I would expect more helicopter juries. Juries cannot be expected to act in ways that are not consistent with greater society. They do occasionally, but expecting it to happen all the time is irrational.

  27. Beth January 6, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Thank you, Donna. Very eloquent and thought-provoking.

  28. lollipoplover January 6, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    @Colin Summers-
    We had homemade Flexible Flyer-type sleds (my Dad was a woodworker) and toboggans and found any hill within our neighborhood to conquer. Riding sleds in the streets was the best.
    We got creative with paths and hills. One of my favorite childhood memories is riding on Fun Skis (made in the ’70’s by K-tel) which were just little red plastic skis that you tied on your feet with a crappy strap. They had no poles so we used sticks. My older sister came up with the genius idea to ski from the highest point in our very hilly neighborhood down through backyards and streets on our Fun Skis. It almost worked but she got too much speed coming off the road and couldn’t navigate around the garden shed in the neighbor’s yard and crashed head first into it. (We call this her Marsha Brady “oh no my nose” story). I got around the shed but gained speed on the last hill and launched up the embankment created by snow plows but landed safely and buried in snow inches away from the street.
    I lived.

    Oh, how I lived!
    Flexible Flyers and Fun Skis were the best. Now sleds are all plastic discs or inflatable inner tubes with no sharp edges. Yet people still crash into trees or other people.
    Sledding in snow is a hallmark of childhood.
    Like riding a bike.
    Or swimming in the ocean.
    All experiences we hope our children can experience for the sake of actually living. Not just surviving.

  29. Nadine January 6, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    my mom broke her arm walking or skating on ice 3 times!!! the only two times she ever skated and when she dicided to walk on it to be on the save side. No anti ice movements were started over it, no H2o was sued and skates are still availeble in the Netherlands. We always thought it one of her quirky things. Just like every mosquito likes her more then me and she was a better mosquito repellent for the family then one of those blue lights .

  30. John January 6, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Donna, personally if I were the Judge proceeding over one of these crazy lawsuits or on the jury deciding if it has any merit, I’d stomp all over it and throw it out faster than you could say BS.

  31. mystic_eye January 6, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    The Hamilton lawsuit sort-of supports the view that you can’t just ban sledding, instead you have the obligation to mark sledding hazards. Or more to the point if you are going to actually ban sledding you have to actually ban it, you have to actively go after people that sled and have signs up everywhere people would sled or on the road into tow, etc. Towns seem to think they can sign a no sledding bylaw, toss up a few signs and a fence, and be lawsuit proof.

    However they completely neglect to take into account human nature – humans will not usually allow for stupid laws when there’s no fear of reprisals. So the chain link is cut down and the fence posts become convenient hand holds and meeting places, the signs are removed or destroyed, and the city can’t replace them because voters won’t support the continued expense even if at one point they were scared into supporting the law.

    You can’t solve everything with a helmet either, particularly considering that it’s cold and you can’t wear anything under a helmet, and even over is questionable. Not to mention the fact that kids under 6 are required to wear helmets while skating here and yet more accidents occur in the parking lot, paths, and area around the rink than on the heavily supervised, speed-limited, leisure skates times.

  32. jimc5499 January 6, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    What we have is an insurance company issue. It is usually the one insurance company’s lawyers filing a lawsuit in the injured person’s name against another insurance company with the home owner, municipality or somebody else listed as a co-defendant.

    I’m pretty sure that this ban on sledding only applies to public property, not private property. The City has probably been threatened with higher insurance premiums if they don’t ban sledding. This is the same thing that has driven other Cities, Counties, Townships and States to remove or alter playground equipment in the name of “safety”.

    I posted previously about a fraternal organization, that I was on the Board of Officers of, being told that we could reduce our insurance costs by removing the basketball hoops that we had at the end of our parking lot. This is the same thing.

  33. Donna January 6, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    “Donna, personally if I were the Judge proceeding over one of these crazy lawsuits or on the jury deciding if it has any merit, I’d stomp all over it and throw it out faster than you could say BS.”

    First off, a Judge can only throw out a lawsuit if it has absolutely no legal merit whatsoever. A judge can’t simply decide he thinks something is stupid and throw it out. If the plaintiff states a cause of action, even a small one, it has to go to the jury no matter how ridiculous the judge thinks the case is. These cases are never as black-and-white as the 5-second sound bites want to make them so it is rare to have a case just summarily dismissed by a judge.

    I might kick this case out too if I were on the jury – although I would actually listen to the evidence and not make that decision based on a sentence or two posted on Free Range Kids as you have obviously done – and if we made up the entirety of society, Lenore would be out of a job. The fact is that we don’t make up the entirety of society and we appear to be becoming a smaller and smaller portion of it. Expecting everyone to decide exactly as we would, while admitting that the world has gone safety and blame crazy is the exact cognitive dissonance I was speaking of.

  34. Andrea January 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I fully support the ban on sledding.

    At least, I will support it right after they ban driving, running, playing sports, and walking across streets. Because, of course they would ban more dangerous activities that occur on public property first, right? Right??

  35. Kim Robson January 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

    –Helen Keller

  36. Shannon Kunkle January 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Last year my husband took our 11-year-old daughter and a friend sledding. Nothing out of the ordinary happened and they were having a good time. We found out the next day the friend somehow got a concussion and it took her almost 4 months to recover. We felt horrible but my husband said they weren’t doing anything that other kids weren’t doing and she was fine at our house later that night. Her parents totally understood that sometimes things just happen when you’re having fun and didn’t blame us (or sue us!). We still take kids sledding at the same hill.

  37. Maxine January 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Guess we should ban swimming pools, ice skiing rinks, ski hills, bike paths, rolling skating rinks, and sidewalks, as well as bathtubs (you can slip and fall), computers ( you can get carpel tunnel, automobiles (more folks die from car accidents that anything else) but certainly not guns, or toxic chemicals, or nuclear power.

    Seriously, think about what has happened in this country. Corporate interests and corporate owned media has down a fantastic job of making sure people are scared of all the wrong things and not paying attention to what is really threatening us!

  38. CAM January 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    It’s not about safety but about lawsuits…or rather $$$. Even if someone is just having fun sledding, say someone on a city owned hill. When they get hurt, they look for a way to benefit or place blame for their own ‘dangerous’ actions. The hill was not marked ‘No sledding’…Well, obviously it is safe! If the hill was marked ‘No sledding’ and there is no fence…The City is still liable b/c they did not take the ‘proper’ precautions to prevent sledding. It’s ridiculous. A large contingent of lawyers specialize in just these types of scenarios. Liability. Unfortunately, judges & jurys often do not hold people accountable for their actions. Insurance companies know this and would prefer to settle out of court. Criminals sue property owners all the time for injuries received during the commission of a crime. A couple decades back, no one would have considered suing. Today, one can be sued for just about anything.

  39. Puzzled January 6, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    Ironically, I do sometimes suspect that doing something to address a perceived danger leaves you more open to lawsuits than doing nothing (don’t do just something, sit there!)

    I worked for a small school that wanted to install a PA system for emergency use. It was prohibitively expensive to install one that we knew could be heard everywhere, and the advice I got on further research was that a partial system would be a false sense of security and would leave us open to liability, moreso than not having one. Which was fine with me because I didn’t even want the thing in the first place.

  40. Suzanne January 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    On a brighter note Columbia City has reopened their park for sledding they have posted a list of safety tips but they seem to be reasonable and common sense (except maybe for requiring all accidents to be reported, depending on how one defines “accident.” Let’s hear it for being rational!

  41. Brooks January 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    Great discussion. I’d like to correct my earlier post and agree with those who say it’s a fear of lawsuits, not the lawyers themselves. What I meant was the institutions lawyers – the city attorney, school board attorney, local attorney advising the soccer team, etc. But they’re just doing what the institutions are asking them to do -mitigate any risk of anything happening.

  42. Donna January 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    “Ironically, I do sometimes suspect that doing something to address a perceived danger leaves you more open to lawsuits than doing nothing (don’t do just something, sit there!)”

    That is sort of true. If you adequately address the perceived danger, no problem. If you partially address the danger or address the danger in an inappropriate way, you are negligent, even if you couldn’t have been liable if you had done nothing.

    A former coworker of mine died falling off a cliff in Hawaii several years ago. Her family has received the largest settlement in the state’s history. The issue was basically that there was a path to the base of a waterfall. The path splits in one place – with one path going to the lagoon and the other path going off a cliff. It is my understanding that the state didn’t create these paths, but they did decide to put up a sign saying “Danger. Keep Out,” after several accidents there, however, the placement of the sign was off and it appeared to only mark the lagoon path and not the cliff path, although the intention was to dissuade people from taking either path. My former co-worker took the path that looked unmarked and fell to her death. The state would have had much less liability, if any, if they had never put up the sign to start with.

  43. Ravana January 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    When I was a kid we used to sled on the hill created by the cloverleaf exit/entrance ramps of the highway. You’d sit on the crash barrier of the exit ramp waiting your turn. The kid who went down last stood next to the entrance ramp and watched for a break in the cars and then stood in the middle of the ramp and gave you the all clear signal then down you went. A good ride meant that you went all the way down the hill, across the entrance ramp and into the shrubbery on the opposite side of the road. Nobody ever suffered more than a few scrapes from the shrubs or a bruise from falling off your sled at the bottom and hitting the snowy pavement. Our parents encouraged this activity so I tell people that when I was young we were told to go play in traffic.

  44. Steve January 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    “Home of the Unbrave”

  45. Pragmatic January 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    So when you’all get injured, sledding/waterskiing/horseback riding, whatever, I hope you don’t allow medical indusrance to pay your bills. Because you’re running up my bill with your carelessness. Take personal responsibility, and pay your own bills.

  46. Pragmatic January 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    So when you’all get injured, sledding/waterskiing/horseback riding, whatever, I hope you don’t allow medical insurance to pay your bills. Because you’re running up my bill with your carelessness. Take personal responsibility, and pay your own bills.

  47. Puzzled January 7, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    Pragmatic – I hope you’re not driving or riding in cars and using up MY insurance coverage. Do we really need to run through a comparison of cars vs. sledding and the chances of it causing a hit to the risk pool?

  48. Warren January 8, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    Let me guess, you believe the people rescued by the Coast Guard or any of the armed forces should pay for it as well? God damn I hate people like you.

  49. Warren January 8, 2015 at 10:43 am #


    Did you ever stop to think that people pay for insurance so they can go and enjoy activities, and not have to worry about the “what ifs“………..

    If you are so self righteous, then drop your own insurance coverage, and pay for everything yourself.

  50. Sara January 8, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    That’s just nuts. You can’t just bubble wrap your kids. My oldest learned to downhill snow ski when he was 3 yrs old. My youngest is also getting ready to learn. When I was 6, I remember sledding with my uncle down a mountain road. We hit a tree. We were fine. 😀

  51. JP Merzetti January 9, 2015 at 6:00 am #

    Fun is illegal. Fun is suspect. Fun is dangerous.
    Fun is also its own learning curve, and a teaching tool.
    What kid would ever sled or toboggan or hurl themselves down a slippery slope if it wasn’t fun?
    If it wasn’t fun they wouldn’t want to do it.
    Anymore than they’d want to eat sloppy sour boiled spinach.

    There go the adults all over again, spoiling kids’ fun.
    Shame on them.
    As if every child is born 40.
    As if their memory spans are barely six inches long.
    As if they wake every morning scared of their own shadow on a sweet sunny day.
    As if they just cannot comprehend that time-honored and sacred division between what’s adult and what’s child.

    I dunno. I figure all the fun I had as a kid…..took me straight into the maw of several hundred thousand missed opportunties of mortally fatal consequences. I survived quite nicely.
    The difference between then and now?
    The adults in my world had better things to concern themselves with. This gives me perspective.
    I haven’t a clue what it gives to all the killjoys who seem to run our world, now.

  52. Ally January 15, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    When our daughter was in 4th grade in Maryland in 2006, the 4th grade teachers announced that they would not take the students outside for recess if there was snow on the ground because someone might throw a snowball. And they didn’t. They stayed in the classrooms much of that winter.