There has been some interesting discussion on the MABRA list about what clubs have to do to put on a "fun" event. It sounds easy, and heck the bike couriers and scofflaws do "Slaughterama" and other races all the time. All those races are "unofficial", have no police, no permits and from what I've seen, are generally dangerous as hell.
But you never hear about law suits from those events. I say little wonder, most of those people have nothing to get in a suit. If they were sued, they would either just declare bankruptcy or not pay a judgment. There really is something to be said about blood, turnips, and all that.
Lots of us though have houses, cars, real jobs, and stuff. For us, getting sued can have some real meat to it. And you'd be surprised at what you can be sued for. And you'd be surprised at how hard it can be to get out of a suit. And you might be surprised that your home owners carrier wont cover you for some things. Like racing... but that's up to you to look at your own insurance policy.
The people who think that they cant be sued in an under the table event... that only the cyclist involved in a crash would be sued... Uh, you are probably wrong. The more people invited to the party, the greater the opportunity for the plaintiff to recover. So if you have any of your little fingers in the event, you can be sued. Heck, even if you don't have any of your little fingers in the event, you may be able to be sued. If they can keep you in a suit is another matter, but you wouldn't care because suits have a nasty habit of taking over your life.
And while we're at it... remember that cyclists who get hit by negligent drivers sue those drivers. Sometimes. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they loose. Its just fair that if cyclists are negligent and cause bad accidents to innocent drivers that those same drivers get to sue the cyclist. And if you are a promoter who puts on an unsafe event, sanctioned or otherwise, that puts the public at risk... well, its just fair that you get it, too.
So when we as promoters are putting on an event... safety is always job one. Down the road is a fair event, etc... and in the top five, you better be thinking about what can happen if you aren't putting on a safe event. And that includes club rides, training rides, and anything else.
There are plenty of attorneys who race bikes. When in doubt ask one. And anytime you want to be regaled with stories of incredible suits, just ask me...