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What If It Really Is Your Fault?
If you are responsible for an accident or injury, tell your martial arts insurance company so. Let them know that you really believe that you owe these people, and you would like them paid. This might affect your standing with your insurer, and would probably affect your rates anywhere else you went, but that’s what you pay martial arts insurance premiums to do. If a matter is small and easily within your budget, you might handle it on your own.
Sometimes we make mistakes, and those mistakes can lead to serious repercussions. At times, a matter might even be serious enough to warrant criminal charges.
During a class, a fairly new student had serious problem with control. The instructor, in an effort to “Teach him a lesson,” unleashed full speed on the student. While none of the strikes were full power, even with protective gear the student was knocked back, hit his head, and had bruised ribs.
The student took no legal action, but the assault was potentially criminal and could have resulted in civil liability as well. If the family had made a claim, the instructor would have been well-advised to offer to pay for medical expenses.
Read more: 3 Ways to Get Sued in Your Martial Arts Business
Sometimes someone else does something criminal, and their ability to do so was a result of our negligence. Consider the case of the young girl sexually molested by the son of the school owner. The son is guilty of a crime, but the school owner could also be found negligent for allowing his son access to the young girls and making a place available to him for such conduct.
There would be additional factors to consider, such as previous conduct, known tendencies, and the reasonableness of precautions available. Still, the family could sue. The school owner in that situation might want to work out some sort of settlement with the family to cover therapy for the girl or some other form of compensation.
An attorney should help put together any settlement, since an improperly-worded offer may open the door to all sorts of problems in the future. In fact, a good-hearted, but improperly-done settlement offer could turn something that wasn’t going to be a serious case into a major event.
A skilled attorney can avoid this situation, but make certain your attorney has some skill at diplomacy and negotiations, since many are overly combative and so focused on being a vigorous advocate for their client that they inadvertently pick fights and turn settlement discussions into Court battles. Some few do it on purpose to collect larger fees, but most simply haven’t got the skill to deal with matters with courtesy and respect for everyone involved. If your insurance company is handling the matter, finding a good attorney is their responsibility.
Your insurance should cover the settlement on the case. If you don’t have insurance, the fair settlement value of a serious matter might be more than you can afford. In that case, you may need to set up a payment plan. Called Structured Settlements, payment-plan settlements allow you to pay over time, and the total amount often does not change, since no interest is applied to the balance. There is also the possibility of obtaining an equity loan, selling a car and buying a less expensive model, or selling some personal property.
The lesson? Have martial arts insurance. Period.