You’ve most likely found this article because you’re an event organizer or attendee who is interested in your legal rights and responsibilities when attending Stitch Events & Activities.
Specifically, you’re most likely interested in what would happen if an accident were to occur at a Stitch event that resulted in you or another Stitch member being injured. This article is intended to help organizers understand any potential liability and protect against it.
Please note: The below information is general in nature and doesn’t address any specific situation, nor should it be used for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you’d like advice about a specific situation, you should consult a lawyer in your state, as laws regarding liability and indemnity vary from country and state.
The first thing that all members should be aware of is that the Stitch Terms of Service include specific clauses designed to protect organizers from liability. By using the Stitch website or app, every member of the community has agreed to our Terms of Service, which contains a release by that member or organizer for any liability related to a group or activity.
To ensure these requirements are explicitly understood for every event or activity on Stitch, all attendees receive a prompt requiring them to confirm they accept these conditions, as well as agree to the Stitch Community Guidelines, before they are able to attend:
In addition, most organizers host events and activities either at commercial venues or at public-run locations (state parks, national parks, local government outdoor locations, etc) where general members of the public are covered by liability insurance of the venue itself.
There are some exceptions to this which we will outline below, but for the majority of organizers posting events and activities to Stitch, the combination of protections provided in our Terms of Service, plus liability coverage provided by the venue in question, provides sufficient peace of mind. Some members have likened the situation for their events to being no different to organizing a dinner at a restaurant for friends and family. As we’ll see below that’s not true in all cases, but for many Stitch activities the analogy is largely true.
As with most things when it comes to liability, however, there are exceptions, and it’s important to note that a number of factors can impact whether an organizer may be held liable. These include, but are not limited to:
The factors above don’t apply to the majority of events and activities organized on Stitch. If they apply to you, however, or you would like to know more about their implications for activities you attend, please read on.
Factors which can affect liability
As mentioned in the overview above, a number of factors can affect liability. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Is the organizer acting for a business, or personally?
The majority of organizers act in a personal capacity as members of Stitch, but some act on behalf of a legal entity such as a business. This aspect doesn’t change the “amount” of liability, but it can impact “who” is liable, and whether the organizer is entitled to limited personal liability, based on the type of entity. If you are an organizer acting on behalf of a legal entity, please consult your own legal advice regarding liability for your activities.
Does the activity involve a high level of risk, and how is that risk communicated?
If the activity involves a high level of risk, and that risk is not communicated to attendees ahead of time, the organizer may face some potential liability. For all physical activities involving an inherent level of risk, we recommend including an explanation of what’s involved in the activity in your event description. For extremely high risk activities, such as mountain climbing or skydiving, or if you simply want to ensure you have the highest coverage possible, we recommend using a waiver form as outlined below.
How does the organizer characterize their skills and expertise in relation to the activity?
An organizer's liability may depend on how they characterize their skills and experience with respect to the group or event and what role they assume in connection with an event. For example, an organizer that holds themselves out as an expert mountaineer and assumes the role of guiding a hiking group up a mountain may be subject to different liability if that organizer does not hold themselves out as an expert. In general, the more that an organizer claims to be an expert in an activity and assumes the role of activity lead, the more they should consider asking attendees to sign an activity waiver.
Was the organizer criminally negligent or guilty of wilful misconduct?
This question happily does not apply in practice to most organizers but it’s important to note. In many territories, waiver forms are not valid in cases where the organizer is found to be negligent or exhibit wilful misconduct. If your skydiving instructor gave you a backpack instead of a parachute, for example, they would most likely still be held liable even if you had signed a release waiver. This provision helps protect attendees: if you attend a Stitch event, it means you can still be protected against criminal negligence on behalf of the organizer, even if they asked you to sign a release waiver. We believe it’s reasonable to place an onus on organizers to ensure they are not criminally negligent or guilty of wilful misconduct at all times.
Has the attendee signed a release waiver?
As outlined above, some organizers may choose to ask attendees to sign a release waiver in order to participate in their events and activities.
Because liability legislation varies from state to state and country to country, Stitch doesn’t provide a generalized waiver form which can apply to all Stitch events and activities. Waivers also need to be tailored based on factors such as whether the provider is an entity or an individual, details of the activity, and whether you ask attendees to sign it once or each time they attend an activity.
There are several resources available on the Internet to help organizers source a waiver form that applies to your state and jurisdiction. These include:
In the US:
In the UK:
LawDepot and similar sites also support other countries such as Canada, Ireland and Singapore, so if you are located in a different country you can search for waivers customized to the legislation in your specific location.
Can I incorporate a waiver into my event description?
An online description doesn’t replicate the full effect of getting attendees to sign a waiver form that is specific to your local jurisdiction, but many organizers find it’s an appropriate alternative for their events and activities. Here is an example from one such event:
What if I host events at my own home, or someone else’s private property?
It’s important to note that events that take place inside member’s private homes are highly discouraged on Stitch. Quite apart from the privacy and safety issues which relate to publicizing your home address to members you may not know, you will not be covered by the liability insurance normally provided at commercial or public-run venues. If you do decide to host or attend an event on private property, you should only do so as part of a private group with members you already know, and exercise due caution.
Venues that require third-party public liability insurance
A small number of events and activities require the organizer to hold public liability insurance before the venue can be booked. Examples of these events include large public gatherings at parks run by your local council, where the booking form requires the organizer to provide your insurance details.
We have only encountered a small number of these events in the community over the last several years. In each case we have handled them manually, with the organizer reaching out to Stitch and getting the event added to Stitch’s existing liability insurance. Stitch’s insurance does not allow us to provide blanket coverage to all activities which take place in the community; the size and diversity of the community across multiple countries means that we have been instructed that no such insurance is available to us. But in some instances we are able to include coverage for events on a case by case basis. If you are wishing to host a large community-wide event that requires liability insurance, please reach out to us.
Finally, once again please note: The above information is general in nature and doesn’t address any specific situation, nor should it be used for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you’d like advice about a specific situation, you should consult a lawyer in your state, as laws regarding liability and indemnity vary from country and state.