The Allure of Risk
In Ontario, there are a ton of heart-pounding activities to enjoy year-round, including ziplining, rock climbing, paintball, white water rafting, and skydiving, among others. Organizations base their entire business on people’s willingness to sign a waiver to partake in risky activities that can include climbing under barbed wire or getting shot anywhere on their body with a paint ball.
Not everyone enjoys a quiet softball game or bridge tournaments, opting instead to experience the visceral rush and sense of accomplishment that comes from flying down a steep black diamond ski run. Millennials value experience, which has led to a boom of risky activities. Companies who offer these services take a diligent approach to legally protecting themselves from any liability and will only allow someone to participate if they sign a waiver.
During registration, participants are required to sign a liability waiver before embarking on a risky activity. A liability waiver serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, it warns of impending dangers and ensures that the participant knows the inherent risks of the activity. For example, if strobe lighting is involved, the waiver ensures that you understand that there is a link between strobe lighting and epilepsy. The second purpose is for participants to release the activity’s operators, owners and staff from any legal liability in the event of injury or death. This means that if the participant is harmed, the company is protected regardless of whether the harm was caused by the inherent risk of the activity, negligence or breach of contract.
Waivers are non-negotiable. If you want to participate, you must sign on the dotted line. It’s an absolute legal document in that sense and the operator cannot place any pressure on a participant to sign. Anyone is simply allowed to walk away and not participate.
Yet, since these waivers are slanted towards the operator, the courts can still hold operators liable in the case of injury or death. They can choose not to enforce the waiver if they believe that the wording is confusing or that the participant was rushed into a decision. If the participant simply chose not to read the terms and consider what the waiver explicitly said, then they might be out of luck in their personal injury or wrongful death claim
Have We Gone Too Far?
Escape games have become quite popular in Ontario. These are physical puzzle games where participants are locked in a room and must solve a series of challenging and frustrating puzzles to escape before time runs out. People who suffer from claustrophobia, anxiety or heart issues are warned against participating in these kinds of activities.
While not inherently risky, this trend may keep escalating to new levels of danger. Would you sign away your life to be subjected to a night of fear and danger at the hands of kidnappers? Mr. Escape in the GTA launched a unique escape game called Kidnap. In this game, the participant plays the role of an FBI agent, who in the investigation of a kidnapping ring, must be kidnapped by the assailants and locked inside a room.
There’s little to no precedent for participants being hurt in this type of activity, so it’s tough to say how the Ontario legal system would preside over such a matter. Ultimately, it’s best to truly consider whether the activity is worth it and to thoroughly review every line of the waiver well in advance of participating.
When Injury Strikes
While waivers are legally binding, there are situations in which a victim can still seek damages. This depends on the specific language in the waiver. There is no standard in Ontario and cases of injured participants suing despite signing waivers have had mixed results. Some of the clauses and legal language could be open to interpretation so if you are injured, the best strategy is to consult with a personal injury lawyer and have them review the waiver and decide what recourse exists.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Even if you signed a waiver and participated in a risky activity, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer if you were seriously harmed while engaging in this activity. The experienced team at Mackesy Smye can review the waiver and all supporting documentation, and determine if you have a case worth pursuing against the operator, staff or holding company.
If you are the victim of a personal injury while participating in an extreme sporting activity, contact us at 1-855-315-9837, or complete our secure online form for a free consultation.
This legal article gives you all you need to know about finding a personal injury lawyer in Ontario. And tells you how to make sure you find the best lawyer for your case. We provide great resources to help you do your research too. You only get one shot at this, so we want you to do it right.Read Article
If you are using Airbnb to find accommodations, you need to understand what happens in the event of a slip, trip or fall. Read this post to learn more about the legal framework that Airbnb provides to its users, and where hosts and guests should exercise more caution.Read Article
If you are suffering mental anguish caused by someone else’s action or negligence, you can seek damages. Carefully read this post to learn more about mental anguish and how plaintiffs can seek damages from the defendant.Read Article
If you have suffered emotionally following a personal injury caused by another person, then you might have a case for compensation based on the psychological impact on your life. Read this article to learn more about psychological damages and to gauge where you might stand.Read Article
Have you been hurt in a motor vehicle accident and are seeking damages? Read this post to better understand how in Ontario, victims of motor vehicle accidents must determine who was legally responsible for any injuries or damages sustained.Read Article
Whether you are liable or seeking compensation for damages, a slip and fall case can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Know the law and costs of initiating a case, working with a Hamilton personal injury lawyer, and going to court to determine if a trial or settlement works best. Read this post to learn more.Read Article