Sports and recreational activities are a wonderful way to stay in shape, meet new people, and enjoy the great outdoors. Participating in organized leagues, river rafting, and snowboard rentals are just some of your sporting options in the beautiful state of Colorado.
With strenuous activity comes the risk of injury. Businesses and organizations that provide sports and recreation opportunities typically compel their clients to fill out a liability waiver when you sign up for their services. This is a common method used by businesses to get people to relinquish their right to a personal injury lawsuit if they are injured.
Although sports and recreation activity liability waivers are meant to shield defendants against liability for their negligent actions, there are legal defenses that can be used to invalidate liability waivers. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to help you get compensation for injuries sustained by you or a loved one.
What Is a Liability Waiver?
A liability waiver absolves the other party against claims of reasonable negligence for any injuries that may result from engaging in certain types of risky activities. When you sign the waiver, you are taking on the assumption of risk. That means you are voluntarily and reasonably exposing yourself to injury or damage with knowledge and appreciation of the risks involved.
When your kid joins a sports team or when you register for a horseback riding lesson, you will invariably be asked to sign a waiver as part of the process. You may not have even noticed it, but every time you buy a lift ticket to go skiing, you are agreeing to the conditions of the waiver that’s printed on the back of the ticket.
In Colorado, the courts and the state legislature have created legal hurdles to make it more difficult for people to receive monetary compensation for a sports injury. This even includes cases where children are injured due to another person’s negligence.
Activities That Require a Waiver
Activities where you almost certainly be asked to sign a waiver include:
- Sports leagues
- Snowmobile, jet ski, and ATV rentals or rides
- Bicycle, e-bike, and scooter rentals
- Guided hiking and rock climbing
- Skydiving and bungee jumping
- Extreme sports rentals
- River rafting tours
- Horseback riding
- Water skiing
Two Court Cases Make It Harder to Seek Damages
In two court cases, the superior court has upheld the right of businesses and organizations to use liability waivers to transfer the assumption of risk to their clients as long as the waiver-signing process was voluntary and informed.
In the case of Brigance v. Vail Summit Resorts, the U.S. Court found that a plaintiff who was injured at ski school could not seek damages because the lift ticket’s exculpatory language on the back and the waiver signed for ski school prevented her claim.
In Dullaer v Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the family of a person who was killed in a guided horseback ride sued the horseback outfitter. But the court ruled that the death resulted from risks that are automatically associated with the activity, stating that “any person who takes part in any sport or recreational opportunity assumes the inherent risks in that sport or recreational opportunity.”
You Can Seek Damages Even If You Signed a Waiver
Even though the law favors business owners and organizations in many instances, there are two circumstances where people who provide sports and recreational activities will not be protected by a waiver.
- When they violated the law
- When they unreasonably increased the risks to the injured party by using gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions
There are also cases where your personal injury lawyer may be able to invalidate a liability waiver. These include:
- Failure to include or spell out risks
- Fraudulent claims
- Unclear or hidden language
- Product liability issues
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured?
If you or your child was hurt during a sporting or recreational activity, you may be able to seek compensation to cover the cost of your medical care and other expenses. Call 719-793-9735 today to schedule your FREE consultation with The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. We’re here to help.