Skydiving is a risky activity and accidents do sometimes happen. Because it is such a hazardous activity, the injuries that result can be particularly grave. Skydiving accidents can occur due to faulty equipment, instructor error, user error, hazardous conditions, or inclement weather.
How Can a Plaintiff Recover Damages?
Generally, plaintiffs recover damages through negligence tort lawsuits. However, most schools and instructors that offer skydiving classes and experiences require the user to sign a liability waiver. This releases the instructor or business owner from liability if an injury occurs during an ultra-hazardous activity such as skydiving.
Courts and judges use the concept of contributory or comparative negligence when assessing damages awarded from a tort action. This means that if the plaintiff, or the person who sustained the injury, had any responsibility for causing the injury, the damages will be denied or limited.
Assumption of risk is another legal concept that can make it difficult for a plaintiff to win damages in a skydiving accident suit. This means that the person who sustained the injury understood that the activity was risky and they could be hurt, but they chose to engage in the activity anyway. Damages can be denied or limited when assumption of risk is present.
What Legal Remedies Exist?
There are still ways to recover damages even if the plaintiff has assumed risk and contributed to his or her own injury:
- Gross negligence: if the skydiving company failed to take reasonable care.
- Willful or wanton misconduct: if the skydiving company intentionally caused the injury.
- Contract violations: if there are problems with the liability waiver such as the waiver is illegal, violates public policy, or plaintiff could not understand the contract due to mental or physical incapacity.
- Minors: Individuals under the age of 18 cannot assume their own risk.
In filing the claim, make sure the filing happens promptly to avoid any statute of limitations issues later. Keep all police reports, insurance reports, and medical records related to the case so you can use them as the case progresses.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Yes. Whether you are being sued as a business owner or are an injured party filing suit, you will need to have a personal injury attorney working on your behalf to give you the best possible defense or case. Torts regarding ultra-hazardous activities are more nuanced than other kinds of personal injury torts, so it is important to retain the services of a professional who has experience in this area of law.