Whitewater rafting has steadily gained popularity since the 1970s. It is an exciting and fun outdoor activity enjoyed by people across the nation. Unfortunately, on some occasions the fun can quickly turn to tragedy.
According to a recent news article from the Johnson City Press, a North Carolina man has died in a rafting accident on the Ocoee River. The victim was on a rafting trip led by a professional guide when the raft flipped over on a rapid. He and five other occupants on the raft fell out of the raft.
After being pulled from the water farther down the river, he was unresponsive. He was taken to a local hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival. Authorities have not released a cause of death but noted that there were no apparent external injuries and that the victim was wearing a life jacket and helmet.
The stretch of river in which this tragic accident occurred was classified as having class three and class four rapids. The specific rapid is known as the “Table Saw.”
Our injury attorneys in Greensboro understand that when someone is injured or killed during a recreational activity, the issue of a liability waiver is often central to the case. Many recreational activities, from rafting to amusement parks, require customers sign or otherwise acknowledge a waiver that basically releases the operator and its employees from any and all liability for negligence (even gross negligence) that results in a personal injury. These waivers are often printed out when a ticket is purchased, or sometimes signed on an electronic signature pad without even having a chance to read, let alone understand, the waiver form.
If a negligence action is filed, defendant will often try to claim that the waiver prevents them from being held liable in a court of law. While courts will enforce these waivers in certain situations, you should speak with an attorney who regularly handles these types of personal injury cases to see if you have a case.
There are a lot of factors that will go into whether the waiver has any effect on the right to file a lawsuit. The courts will often look at the circumstances under which the release was signed. If the victim was not given an opportunity to read the waiver before engaging in the activity, this can be used to argue that the waiver is null and void.
Another important fact is to what extent the defendant engaged in negligent conduct. Despite what the waiver says, it is very hard to act with a complete disregard for the safety of others and then claim that protection due to the fact that a waiver was signed. This of course depends on the level of danger associated with the activity. In whitewater rafting for example, while there is obviously a level of danger, it is generally considered safe, and a very small percentage of rafters are seriously injured each year. If the injury would not have occurred without serious negligence on behalf of the company, this evidence could be particularly compelling to a jury.
Contact the Greensboro personal injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
North Carolina man dies in Ocoee rafting accident in Tennessee, September 14, 2014, Johnson City Press
More Blog Entries:
Donahue v. Ledgends, Inc.: Liability Waivers in Negligence Actions, August 22, 2014, Greensboro Personal Injury Lawyers Blog