Rock climbing can be a fun and safe pastime, if you practice it correctly. Gyms all over the country have caught onto the trend, and now rock-climbing walls are ubiquitous. These gyms provide a fun way to get some physical activity, but they can also be dangerous. What happens when you’re injured while using a climbing wall? Can you legally sue the gym where it happened? Learn about liability as it pertains to rock climbing.
Premises Liability Concerns
One of the biggest theories pertaining to rock-climbing injuries is that of premises liability. This is a very complex area of the law, but it basically asserts that anyone who owns a property must be reasonably careful in its upkeep and make it safe for visitors. If a property owner knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed but didn’t fix it, you may have legal grounds for a claim.
Rock walls require regular maintenance. If owners don’t regularly check steps, ropes, or other equipment and it falls into disrepair, causing injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit on the grounds of premises liability.
Product Liability Concerns
On the other hand, sometimes the fault is not with the property owner, but the manufacturer of the equipment. If a defective piece of safety gear (or the wall itself) leads to your injury, it becomes a matter of product liability law. Manufacturers can commit negligence if they distribute products that have an inherent flaw in design, or even a defective batch. Retailers may even be responsible if they sell an unsafe product – for example, a safety harness that has been subject to recall.
What about Waivers of Liability?
Rock climbing accidents may be unique in that many gyms have participants sign a “waiver of responsibility.” This serves as protection for the gym, which says that you can’t sue for damages after signing. However, you may still be able to pursue damages, even if you signed a waiver. The courts may deem a waiver unenforceable; it depends on the exact nature of your case.
Damages in a Rock Climbing Accident Claim
If you recently incurred injury at a rock climbing gym and it arose from someone else’s negligence, you may be able to gain two types of compensation. These include:
- Economic damages. These compensate for material aspects of an accident, which includes medical bills, ongoing rehabilitation costs, and the cost of missing work (lost wages).
- General damages. These damages help address the intangible losses associated with your experience, such as pain and suffering. It may also address emotional distress or loss in life quality.
Rock climbing can be a fun way to pass the time, but it’s not without its dangers. Participants should know their legal options in the event of an accident or injury. Even if you signed a liability waiver, you may still have legal grounds for a claim. If you think you have a case for negligence based on what you’ve read here, the best thing you can do is contact an attorney for a free initial consultation.