He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
This blog will be used to discuss the legal issues in outdoor recreation. Human powered outdoor recreation which includes hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, mountain climbing, skiing/snowboarding (alpine, Nordic, AT, etc.), running, racing, cycling anything you can do outside to have fun and invigorate your spirit. I’ll post news and excerpts from cases and lawsuits and provide you with the opportunity to reply.
Find an attorney who is right, just not one that agrees with you to get your business
How did I get here and why am I good at what I do?
I grew up outside. I spent my summers in high school and college working at summer camps and backpacking. Even before that, my family went backpacking in the Adirondacks every fall to watch the leaves change and our vacations were in a tent. I’ve backpacked, canoed and rafted down most of the east coast. Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, the Adirondacks; parts of the Appalachian Trail are all old stomping grounds. I went to college and graduated with a degree in Environmental Interpretation from Ohio State University. Then back to the outdoors where I worked for the Boy Scouts of America for a couple of years, teaching young men outdoor skills and working at summer camps.
Summer camps are a great way to meet new friends, learn social interaction and develop skills on a gradual basis in the outdoors. I taught pioneering, hiking, backpacking, nature, swimming, and eventually became program director of camps. I was able to go to the BSA National Camping School along the way.
I then switched to the insurance industry for three years selling insurance and handling claims. Understanding sales, insurance policies and dealing with people after accidents or tragedies was a learning experience. Furthermore, understanding insurance agents, insurance brokers and the different types of insurance companies and policies is a skill, I use.
From there I went to law school. During and after law school, I taught a non-degree rock climbing class for Ohio State University and ran races. Running races got me through law school and kept me in t-shirts for decades. After law school, I went to work in the home office of Nationwide Insurance for three years. Underwriting, claims management and understanding the insurance industry in general were great skills that I learned there. Reading and understanding an insurance policy is something I also learned, actually how to stay away reading long boring documents is what I learned.
Then I moved to Colorado, opened a practice and went to work as a whitewater raft guide, again. Since moving to Colorado, I’ve guided or taught rock climbing and mountaineering. I’ve also started doing a lot of research and public speaking. My CV has an extensive list of my public speaking experience and subjects as well as some of the articles I’ve written.
My law practice specialized in human powered outdoor recreation defense. That defense included twenty years of trial experience. I’ve participated or done twelve trials in the outdoor recreation industry. Whitewater rafting, ropes courses, snowmobile trips, mountaineering and rock climbing were the activities that generated the trials.
My clients guide to the 7 summits, travel to the poles, cross the oceans in a variety of crafts, climb trees, rapel off cliffs and buildings and work all over the world. No matter what the season or the weather, I have a client that works in it or specializes in it. My clients make the equipment that you and other commercial guides use.
I am the US representative to the UIAA legal experts working group. I am on the board of directors of the Trade Association of Paddlesports, the Colorado Alliance of Environmental Education, the Galapagos Preservation Society and serve as the Chairman of the American Alpine Club book club. I also serve on three major committees of the American Society of Testing and Material (ASTM): Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities, Committee F27 on Snow Skiing, Committee F32 on Search and Rescue.
I went to work for a major ski area and handled their risk management and claims. During that time, the resort experienced close to 2 million skier days. We experienced three fatalities, three quadriplegics and one paraplegic. We had 11 children fall out of lifts and more than 7000 medical evacuations off the mountain. At the end of that job no one sued for any of their injuries, and I wrote one claims check for $100.
Worker’s compensation claims also dropped more than 66% while I was there.
Since then I’ve dealt with fifteen fatalities personally or with my clients. In every case, no claims were paid; no settlements were offered. Dealing with the issues and answering questions eliminated a lot of problems.
I have the experience both as an attorney and using the equipment, dealing with customers, and twenty years of trial experience. I know what I’m doing.
Thanks for reading. Stick around, it should be fun.
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