Extreme Sports, Extreme Risk
“Extreme sports” is a term used to describe exhilarating and risky activities like sky diving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, rock climbing and white water kayaking. These activities are characterized as being “extreme”, in part, because they are inherently dangerous. They can all result in serious injury or death.
The companies that offer extreme sports experiences are liable for injuries and deaths caused by their negligence. A sky diving company that negligently supplies faulty equipment will be liable for injury or death that results. A scuba diving company that negligently provides inadequate instruction or safety measures that result in injury or death will be liable.
However, most “extreme sports” companies attempt to limit their liability by having participants sign waivers of liability. If a waiver is properly brought to the attention of the participant and is properly drafted, then it can eliminate liability even where the company offering the extreme sport experience was negligent.
A scuba diving company recently relied on a waiver to successfully avoid liability for the death of one of its customers despite failing to provide an adequate dive plan and despite employing inexperienced instructors. In another case, a waiver relied upon by a motorcycle training course was found not to bar a lawsuit for negligence because the company did little to bring the waiver to the attention of its customers and the waiver was drafted in an ambiguous manner.
Whether a waiver will eliminate liability depends on how it was brought to the attention of the participant and what it says. If you are seriously injured in an extreme sports activity and wonder whether the waiver you signed prevents you from suing, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer for advice.
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