Liability vs Real Safety: How Insurance Issues Contort Our Lives

Hi Folks! Here’s this weekends thought to chew on, from frequent commenter Kenny Felder:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m not sure how many readers will see the connection between this story [the lifeguard fired for trying to save a man beyond his official area] and Free-Range issues, but it is huge. A lot of the problems we’re running into come when people worry about insurance and lawsuits, and dress up those financial fears in “safety” clothing.
At my high school, for instance, we spend a staggering amount of time and money lining up parent volunteers to drive our students to field trips. These
same students drove themselves to school, and will drive themselves home. “Can’t they just drive themselves to a field trip?” “No, that’s not safe.” “Then are they in mortal danger every time they drive to school?” “That’s not our responsibility.” Translation: We’re not worried about their safety, we’re worried about a lawsuit.
And of course, it isn’t an entirely irrational fear. Crazy lawsuits happen all the time. Somehow we have to figure out why they didn’t used to happen, and get
back there. Until then, these problems will not get better. – K.F.
LENORE HERE: I agree with all of this except the idea that  “crazy lawsuits are happening all the time.” I have another guest piece I’ll be running here in a few days explaining how those “crazy lawsuits” are sort of like predators: We HEAR about them all the time, but in actuality they’re rare. But Kenny is totally right: The fear of them distorts our world view. And of course, insurance companies LOVE for us to worry about every angle, so their ridiculous rules don’t seem so awful. Which brings me to this other comment, that appeared on the post below, about parades forbidding people on floats from throwing candy:

Dear Free-Range Kids: Actually I have a different take on the whole matter. I have help run several of the Gay Pride Parades here in Houston — which, by the way, have lots of families, with young kids, in attendance. It costs more to hold a parade where you toss items. You have to insure against anyone running out onto the parade route and being struck by a float. You have to have a rider on your policy to protect against someone suing because they were injured (being pushed, falling, and or struck by fast projectiles) while trying to obtain said object. Then you have to pay extra money to have the items that are not taken home cleaned up the next day by the sanitation department. So it might have been a purely budgetary item to eliminate candy, and they blamed it on “We don’t want the kids to get squished.” The Houston Pride Parade instructs (yes each entry in the parade has to attend class) on how to toss items into the crowd. Each float that tosses items has to have walkers on each side to watch for people going in front of the floats. This is on a parade route with metal barricades on each side of the road to prevent people from entering the route, and it still happens. Is it a sad excuse, yes. However, it shows the window into the world we live in today where everyone is sue happy and has no common sense. So it might have been because the organization that ran the parade could not budget the insurance policy to protect itself, so they had to ban thrown items. – Milo Moon