Were You Injured During a Water Sports, Adventure Tour, or Excursion Accident, Even after Signing a Waiver?
Southern Alabama has long been a great location to enjoy exciting water sports adventures through adventure tour and water excursion companies. Thousands of people enjoy the fun in the sun every year, but sometimes the enjoyment goes terribly wrong.
Such was the case in this parasailing accident, when a father and daughter fell from a purported 400 feet and suffered injuries. These accidents are nothing new either, and parasailing accidents are far from the only type of water sport injury. There are plenty of accidents involving jet skis, water skis and boating disasters, all of which raise questions about liability.
When adventure tours are providing the water sporting equipment, however, it raises interesting questions regarding liability and the legal rights of the injured party after signing a waiver.
Who Is Liable in These Sorts of Accidents?
Generally speaking, who is liable for injuries and fatal accidents can quickly become a very complex matter. As always, it is best to seek out an experienced Alabama injury attorney who will help navigate you through any and all legal complexities. However, there are general rules that are often applied in these sorts of accident cases.
A negligent adventure tour company can be held liable if they performed a grossly negligent activity. Examples of such behavior may include:
- taking a boat out during dangerous weather,
- driving the boat while drunk
- and other harmful behaviors.
In such instances, the water sports company will likely be liable, even if the water activity is deemed inherently dangerous and the injured party signed a waiver.
Another issue worth noting is whether or not the product was defective. For example, whether parasailing or riding a jet ski, if the product itself was defective, that will have significant bearing on who is liable. If the product itself was defective, victims often can sue the manufacturer of the product for damages. In the state of Alabama, a common law theory of negligence is necessary to prove a product liability claim.
In such cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate that there was a design defect, a manufacturing flaw or a failure to warn of a danger or safety hazard inherent to the product. If the court finds that this criteria has been met, the manufacturer will be liable for injuries and harm that resulted.
Using the most recent Gulf Shores, AL parasailing accident as an example, the legal liability determination hinges on whether or not the line that snapped was faulty or not, and whether or not the boat captain acted negligently. If an investigation determined that the weather was dangerous and the captain took them out on the water anyway or drove the boat in an unsafe manner, the boat captain may well be found liable under a negligence standard. Also, if the captain violated Gulf Shores safety ordinances (namely, parasailing at a height greater than 500 feet), then the captain may be held liable under a negligence standard as well.
However, if the boat captain acted reasonably, but the line itself was unsafe, the manufacturer of the parasailing line may be the one that is liable. All told, this story serves as a key reminder that the liability in these matters is almost always determined after a thorough investigation of the facts and legal standards that apply, which is why injured parties should immediately seek out an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney when these sorts of accidents occur.
Legal Rights for Injured Parties
For almost every water sports injury arising from an adventure tour, the injured party signed a waiver saying the company is not liable for such accidents. As such, the issue becomes just how binding these accident waivers are. Some activities are considered to be inherently dangerous enough that a party waives liability for any issues which arise. In general, parasailing, jet skiing and similar activities fall under this sort of activity.
However, there are exceptions. As noted previously, a negligent water sports or adventure company will not be allowed to skate free of liability simply because a liability waiver was signed for an inherently dangerous activity. Further, any valid liability waiver must clearly state the risks inherent to the activity. If the waiver fails to do so, the waiver runs the risk of not holding up during a lawsuit.
Finally, a liability waiver for a tour company will certainly not excuse a manufacturer of a defective product that was used during a parasailing or jet ski experience. In short, a liability waiver is far from an iron-clad agreement that shields a water sports company from all accident liability.
Plaintiffs who believe they have suffered at the hands of a negligent tour company or defective product should contact a proven Alabama injury attorney who will give you quality legal assistance for the specifics of your personal injury case. Noel B. Leonard is a Foley injury lawyer who handles serious personal injury claims every day for Baldwin, Escambia, and Mobile Counties in Alabama. Call 251-732-2701 to contact Noel today to schedule a consultation.