Summer is nearly upon us, and for most, that means getting outdoors and enjoying nature and the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, as engagement in outdoor activities rises, so do the potential for injuries and even death. Between 2006 and 2010, for example, British Columbia saw an average of 58 people pass away due to adventure activities such as snowmobiling and scuba divingon an annual basis.
Other activities like white water rafting, zip lining, and bungee jumping have few required protections, which means outdoor enthusiasts often have very few safety precautions. Seldom do adventurers really stop to consider the potential risks involved in engaging in specific outdoor activities. The fact that many activities require that you sign a waiver also makes accidents caused by outdoor adventure activities challenging.
Concerns with Limited Legal Liability for Outdoor Adventures
As of May 2014, British Columbia saw 1.2 million people participate in the outdoor adventure activities offered in Canada as tourists. In a 2014 survey, 58% of Canadians note that they have tried outdoor activities that are classified as adventure sports. However, many of those activities are associated with a requirement to sign a waiver before participating. Almost 54% of Canadians indicated that they did not understand that by signing a waiver, it may be impossible to successfully assert a legal claim against the company providing the outdoor activity.
For example, in 2008, an inexperienced diver drowned during a dive with an Ontario diving company in the St. Lawrence River. The court found that the business sold the diver inadequate equipment and left him at the bottom of the river in a clear state of panic. Nonetheless, because the diver signed a waiver, the case was ultimately dismissed.
These waivers significantly curtail legal liability that companies face if they fail to take necessary safety precautions for those who use their services. The Supreme Court of Canada has consistently upheld the validity of waivers, even in situations where a company staff was clearly negligent or careless.
Knowing the Risks of Your Adventure
As long as the outdoor adventurer has the capacity to understand what he or she is signing, the waiver is likely to be upheld. This is true despite the fact that most users do not read through the document they are signing in its entirety.
Unfortunately, there is no higher standard for businesses engaging in risky sporting activities. Instead, adventurers are advised to look out for themselves. As a result, it is especially important to understand and realize the risks associated with a particular outdoor activity before you take the plunge.
In fact, the entire outdoor adventure industry in Canada is generally self-regulated. For example, some industries, such as canoeing and kayaking, are governed by certain standards for training. However, these standards are voluntary. In other activities, there is virtually no regulations or standards that apply to the outdoor adventure activity.
Investigations and Information
In British Columbia, the BC Safety Authority can investigate some operations if there are reports of unsafe procedures. Zip lining companies are one such operation. However, these investigations are few and far between and may take a significant amount of time, which makes preventing accidents subject to serious delay.
For example, in one case a company had three accidents in roughly 30 days before the BC Safety Authority imposed a six-day suspension of its operations. Ultimately, quality control is still up to the individual company, and outdoor adventurers participate at their own risk in most situations.
Getting Legal Help
Despite the potential for limited legal options after signing a waiver, you may still have a legal claim after an outdoor adventure accident that affects you or a loved one. Our team at Diamond and Diamond will be able to evaluate your claim as part of our free case evaluation process. Contact our firm by calling 1-800-567-HURT today.