Recreational and competitive obstacle course races are popular activities. In these events, participants run through obstacles that present challenges, such as balancing, jumping across ditches, climbing, lifting objects, crawling, etc. Groups and teams can sometimes be involved.
Spartan Races and Warrior Dash Races are popular obstacle course races.
In obstacle course races, there is a certain degree of an injury risk due to the extreme physical nature of the event. Obstacle course race injuries may include:
- Strains and sprains
- Neck, back, or head injuries
- Lacerations or cuts
- Broken bones
- Various other types of injuries
There are obstacle course races involving participants spraying with paint or passing through colored powder. These types of substances can also cause injuries.
Who Can be Held Liable for an Obstacle Course Race Injury?
Participants in obstacle course races usually have to sign a waiver releasing the host organization from liability. A number of parties can still share the liability for an injury sustained during an obstacle course race.
The host organization might be held liable if they fail to remedy a known dangerous condition on the course. In a crawl space, sharp objects may be present, unreasonably heavy objects may fall, or unsafe obstacle structures may collapse during a race. In such instances, the organization might be held liable under negligence laws.
In other cases, a participant’s actions may have caused injury to another participant. Here, the person might be held liable if they had acted in a reckless or negligent way, such as disregarding the safety instructions for a particular course. They can also be held liable if they intentionally cause injury to other runners.
What Are Some Causes Of Legal Action Associated With Extreme Sports Injuries?
When someone is injured while engaging in an extreme sport, especially when a company or organization sponsors the event, there are a variety of causes for legal action:
- Negligence: Negligence is a failure to exercise a reasonable amount of care that an ordinary person would exercise in similar circumstances. For extreme sports, negligence claims would likely focus on the course design; allowing too many participants to race; or failing to inform participants about the risks involved adequately;
- Assumption of Risk: One defense against negligence would be assumption of risk. A defendant will argue that the participant was aware of the risks and voluntarily engaged in them. Nevertheless, courts may need to consider whether the individual was aware of or could appreciate the risks or whether the organization acted beyond negligence. Assumption of risk may not apply under either of those circumstances;
- Gross Negligence and Recklessness: Many states differ in how they define recklessness and gross negligence; several states do not distinguish between the two legal concepts. However, regardless of how the state defines the cause of action, one common element is that the defendant knew of or should have known of a risk. However, they ignored it and continued to act in an unsafe manner.
The assumption of risk does not apply to these causes of action and is the most significant category of lawsuits associated with extreme sports organizations. For example, an extreme sports organization may be acting recklessly if it:
- Add unnecessary danger to an obstacle;
- Intentionally make water obstacles muddy or murky; or
- Deliberately crowd obstacles.
What If I Signed A Waiver?
In court, waivers (also called “express assumption of risk”) are typically upheld. Snowboarding, dirt bike racing, and water rafting are all extreme sports. For example, a person may be required to sign a waiver before buying a ski lift pass informing them that the activity is hazardous and the resort will not be responsible for any injuries.
Depending on the facts of each case, the waiver may or may not stand up to legal challenges. A person injured in an endurance race with mud, fire, and electricity obstacles may have several grounds for challenging the waiver.
Additionally, waivers are considered to be void if they violate public policy. A court will not enforce a waiver if it relieves the defendant from legal responsibility, even though society would rather hold people accountable.
The court is likely not to enforce a waiver allowing other people to use an assault rifle to shoot an apple off someone’s head just because they signed the waiver. This is because society would rather discourage this type of behavior altogether. Consequently, it is likely that the injured person or their family could still file a lawsuit.
What are the Legal Remedies for an Obstacle Course Race Injury Suit?
Obstacle-course race injuries may sometimes result in a lawsuit. In such cases, the legal remedy will likely be a compensatory damages award, which is issued to the injured party. It is possible for the damages to cover losses such as hospital costs, medication expenses, lost wages, and in some cases, pain and suffering.
In cases where extreme negligence or recklessness was proven or for intentionally caused injuries, other damages may apply, such as punitive damages. Cases where many persons were injured may result in a class action lawsuit.
Are There any Legal Remedies for Extreme Sports Injuries?
Injuries caused by extreme sports may require legal action, particularly if the cause or extent of the injury is disputed. Generally speaking, the remedy for an extreme sports lawsuit will likely be a monetary damages award.
An injured plaintiff is awarded compensatory damages to bring them back to their position before the harm or loss occurred. In such cases, compensatory damages are awarded to compensate for damages, injuries, or losses.
Special damages are intended to restore the injured party to their position before the harm or injury occurred. This generally includes damages that can be calculated, such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Property damage;
- Loss of wages or earnings; and
- Other quantifiable losses.
General damages may be awarded for losses that are not easily determined through monetary calculations. These can include losses associated with emotional distress, defamation, or loss of consortium or companionship. The damages may cover associated costs in cases where wrongful death is also an issue.
When calculating compensatory damages, courts will generally consider factors such as:
- The background of the victim, such as their age;
- The type of injury, as well as the extent of the injury;
- Costs associated with treating or rehabilitating the plaintiff;
- Any differences or losses in the victim’s ability to earn a wage before and after the incident;
- Actual losses of income;
- Whether any property damage resulted from the accident; and
- Impacts on the victim’s quality of life in any other way.
A plaintiff’s damages award may be reduced or limited in certain circumstances. An example of this would be how if the plaintiff somehow contributed to their own injury, it can affect the amount of damages that they can collect under contributory negligence laws.
There can be a difference between receiving a compensatory damages award from the court and receiving the money. A court will generally order a defendant to pay the plaintiff’s damages award if they have been ordered to do so.
Sometimes, however, the defendant is unable or unwilling to pay the damages. It may be possible for the plaintiff’s attorney to assist with the collection process in such cases. They can take steps to gather the money from the defendant, such as by placing a lien on their property or garnishing some of their wages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Obstacle Course Race Injury Lawsuit?
Obstacle course race injury claims may be complex. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need assistance or representation for a lawsuit involving an obstacle course race. Your attorney can provide legal advice and guidance during the process.