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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » General Support » lyme support group need your thoughts

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Author Topic: lyme support group need your thoughts
minerva
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we have a support group in my area and we have been looking at what liablity we might have.
we dont have any insurance. wondering if anyone else who has a support group has insurance or knows what kind of risk we could be dealing with.
any advice? thanks!

Posts: 161 | From sonoma county | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BoxerMom
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It never occurred to me that a support group could carry legal liability. For what?

At my group, we mostly discuss new Lyme research findings, treatment strategies, and the frustrations of living with an unacknowledged illness. Sometimes we suggest coping strategies for those having difficult times. At the last meeting, we each took a turn talking about a hobby or interest outside of Lyme. Mostly, we listen to each other.

We don't diagnose. We don't recommend any one type of treatment over another. We educate and allow those attending to make their own medical decisions. We don't openly discuss specific LLMDs. We don't participate in activism as a group.

We open each meeting with the same three rules:

1. We don't advise or criticize others regarding their choices for Lyme treatment. We respect each others' healing paths.
2. We maintain others' privacy and anonymity when outside of support group.
3. We don't discuss LLMDs' specific protocols in the open forum.

I can't find the areas of potential liability here.

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 - Must...find...BRAIN!!!

Posts: 2867 | From Pacific NW | Registered: Apr 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Keebler
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Good question.

Non-profit, and not-for-profit organizations that are incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 agency, with a board of directors are wise (and required in some states) to have certain kinds of insurance to protect their board members if someone files a lawsuit or if one board member runs off with all the money or something like that.

That part is called fiduciary insurance - all about management of money or property between two or more parties (board members).

Agencies would also be required to have accident insurance.

However, support groups are not usually incorporated nor do they have the same responsibilities, therefore, would not require the same protections. Yet, it is good to find out more.

* Personal injury /accident protection for the meeting site ?

It may be wise to hold your meetings at public places that DO have certain kinds of insurance in case some one trips and falls. If meetings are held in people's homes and someone is injured in the home or even on the property, the homeowner could still be sued.

Many support groups meet at hospital and medical centers, as part of a collection of support groups through the patient education departments. Even if there is no LLMD in the state, there are many hospitals that still have a lyme support group meet on site, just as any support group can do.

Other issues - you would need to be careful in how you share information, being sure no one interprets suggestions as medical advice. That's easily covered by handing out an information page to newcomers, as BoxerMom listed above.

If you are concerned, I would talk to someone at your state organization - &/or someone at your local / state United Way. They work closely with agencies. Ask for the agency coordinator or trainers - most United Ways will have a template and will offer some help even for those groups that are not under their wing.

They should be able to direct you to any state laws for support groups but most of the laws would apply only to incorporated agencies with a board of directors. I'd start asking here:
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http://www.lymedisease.org/

California Lyme Disease Association (CALDA)
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Posts: 48021 | From Tree House | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Keebler
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Their ``Resources'' link has various materials, such as brochures they can send to you:

http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org

Lyme Disease Association

====================================

A CHART with pros and cons of meeting venues is here-
-----------------

How to Start a Support Group

http://www.haruteq.com/howtosupport.htm

How to start a self-help peer-to-peer support group

Excerpts:

* November 13 2001: . . . there are no cases on record in all of North America where self-help groups have been successfully sued. . . .

Just in case you ever run into insurance hassles and some company doesn't want to renew your home insurance policy because of your involvement in a support group, here's the lingo you use when talking to the sales folks: . . . .

==================================

From a Canadian group:

http://www.selfhelp.on.ca/start.html

Starting A Self-Help Group

=========================

http://www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/pdf/How-To-Start-a-Support-Group.pdf

How to Start a Support Group - by Renee Bernau - 4 pages

- written for migraine patients, but applicable to lyme - especially the part about carefully choosing an environment that is not noisy, etc. [Many lyme groups state: please, no scented personal care products . . . .]
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Posts: 48021 | From Tree House | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
randibear
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listen, in today's environment, people will sue for anything.

say somebody in the group suggested a supplement or something and someone tried. didn't like it or had a reaction.

they sue.....and they would. mark my word on it.

i think it's a good idea.

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do not look back when the only course is forward

Posts: 12262 | From texas | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Keebler
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Yet, we can get over insured. Some legal advice is good but we should not have to have insurance to cover those who are lawsuit-happy. Insurance is there to protect us, not smother us or rob us.

An official disclaimer (such as with BoxerMom's group) can replace unnecessary insurance if this is not an agency but a peer-to-peer support group that meets on public property - or on privately owned but public access property (such as a hospital or college meeting room).

For hospitals that offer rooms for support groups to meet, the community relations person on staff may have some great advice and materials. You can bet they've covered all the bases.

United Way "agency relations coordinators" give workshops on this kind of thing all the time.
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[ 10-26-2010, 02:51 PM: Message edited by: Keebler ]

Posts: 48021 | From Tree House | Registered: Jul 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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