Recreational activities are meant to be fun. In fact, the definition of recreational activity is anything that you do for leisure. Recreational activities might for example be something you do on the weekends with your family when you aren’t working or when you’re traveling.
Popular recreational activities include hiking, snowboarding, riding dirt bikes and ATVs, camping, and hunting. Recreational sports can also fall into this category.
While the goal is fun, sometimes recreational activities can be dangerous. That’s why before participating in these activities or visiting a facility offering them, you often have to sign a release of liability waiver.
Recreational activity injuries can range from mild to severe.
Injures that can stem from recreational activities include cuts and bruises, broken bones, head injuries, burns, and lacerations.
While the majority of recreational activities do have some level of risk, if there is negligence involved or duty is ignored by participants or providers, these risks can be increased.
With many recreational activities, there is an assumption of risk, which is part of signing a waiver. You’re acknowledging that. Even so, if you are injured in a recreational activity, you may have legal options in some cases.
Types of Recreational Accidents
Some of the types of recreational accidents that can occur and are fairly common include:
- Sports and school activities
- Water activities including swimming, boating, jet skiing, and rafting
- Vacation activities such as ATVs or rock climbing
- Hang gliding
- Winter activities like skiing or snowboarding
Can You Sue if You’re Injured During a Recreational Activity?
If you signed a consent form, it’s a waiver that releases an individual or organization from liability if an injury happens.
If you are injured, in many circumstances, and you’ve signed a waiver, you might not be eligible to get compensation.
If negligence is an issue, then you might be able to recover damages.
Negligence means that an organization or individual didn’t use an ordinary level of care that someone else in a similar situation would have used.
Legal Elements of Negligence
In the legal sense, there are a few elements of negligence that have to be present.
The first is a duty.
Duty means that the defendant owed a duty of care to the person injured. For example, a duty of care might mean ensuring that equipment is in good working order.
Then, there has to be a breach of duty. Not maintaining equipment properly might indicate a breach of duty.
Causation has to exist, meaning the defendant was the cause of the injuries, and then there’s the issue of damages. Damages means that the injuries a person sustained can be calculated as a monetary amount.
To win a lawsuit involving a recreational injury, you’d have to be able to show each of these legal elements.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Recreational Activity
If you are injured, or someone you love is, you should first contact 911 if medical attention is needed. You should also ensure that you file a report at the venue or facility right away at the time of the accident.
Take pictures of the scene and the conditions leading to the accident or injury.
If there is any physical evidence, try to keep it.
If you or the injured person didn’t require emergency medical attention, you should still see a medical professional as soon as possible.
Frequently, when there’s an accident, you don’t realize you’re hurt right away.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
If there is a recreational accident, it may be based on negligence, and the parties that might be held liable in these instances include:
- Activity guides
- Other participants
- The operational organization
Damages that you may be able to seek after a recreational injury include medical expenses, lost income, in-home care you might need, and damages for pain and suffering, which are non-economic.
Often times what happens when someone is injured during a recreational activity, and particularly one where they signed a waiver, is that they automatically think they have no recourse if they’re injured. This may be the case, but not always.
A lot of recreational injuries are due to someone else’s negligence.
For anyone hurt in a recreational activity, waiver or not, it’s a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney. Sometimes these injuries can be severe and life-changing, and a lawyer can help someone understand what their options are to recover damages. Don’t assume you have no options.