Can You Sue a Bike Park for Your Accident and Injuries?
If you have signed a liability release waiver, it may be very difficult to sue a bike park for any injuries you sustain while using their facilities, unless the waiver is ‘deceptive’ or promotes ‘unconscionable acts or practices.’
Jamieson vs. Whistler
The importance of liability waivers was put to the test in 2017 when Blake Jamieson, a keen mountain biker, sued Whistler Bike Park. Jamieson had attempted a rock roll on the famous A-line trail when he crashed, sustaining catastrophic spinal injuries which rendered him a quadriplegic.
The case made its way to the British Columbia Supreme Court, where Jamieson argued that he was not adequately informed about the waiver. This claim was dismissed. The judge pointed to the fact that there was a liability waiver in place. She highlighted that the language of the waiver was clear, and that the waiver was carefully explained and presented by staff.
Liability release waivers
Jamieson ultimately lost his case. This goes to show that if you sign a liability waiver, you most likely forgo your right to pursue legal action against a bike park (or, for that matter, a ski hill, adventure company or any other organisation). This is particularly true if the company in question has policies and procedures in place to ensure that:
- The waiver is written in plain English
- The waiver is presented to the customer
- The staff make sure the customer understands the waiver
- The customer is not rushed into signing the waiver
What if the company was negligent?
Sometimes, a waiver is still enforceable, even if the company has acted negligently. This was the case in 2012 when two injured people sued Cougar Mountain Adventures for sending them down a zip line at the same time. The judge found that because each person had signed a waiver, the claim should be dismissed – even though the staff had been negligent.
Although Cougar Mountain Adventures is not a bike park, it just goes to show that waivers can be upheld, even when the customer sustains an accident through no fault of their own. Therefore, if you have been injured while riding at a bike park, ask yourself – did I sign a liability release waiver? If so, you may struggle to bring a claim for personal injury.
When will a claim succeed?
That being said, BC general consumer protection law states that a customer is not bound by a waiver, if that waiver is ‘deceptive’ or promotes ‘unconscionable acts or practices.’ These are very legalistic terms. Basically, if a waiver is misleading or unreasonable, then you may still be able to make a claim. This might happen if:
- You are pressured into signing the waiver
- You are not made aware of the risks
- The bike park abused their position of power to get you to sign the waiver
- The waiver goes against public policy
Also, liability waivers are not always enforced when a minor is injured. This became clear in 2009, when the BC Supreme Court found that a child injured at a martial arts class was entitled to pursue a personal injury claim – even though his parents had signed a liability waiver on his behalf.
Vancouver personal injury lawyers
If you have been injured at a bike park, or your child has, please contact our Vancouver personal injury lawyers. The laws surrounding bike park claims are complicated and depend on many factors, including the presence or absence of a liability waiver, and the processes and procedures that were in place.
We can clarify your legal rights, helping you understand whether or not you can make a personal injury claim.Go back to Blog