Summer is a prime time for vacations, and many adventurous travelers like to take trips to hike, rock climb, go boating or diving, water ski, parasail or take part in other fun but risky activities. If you are heading off for a summer trip and you will be doing something more high risk than just sitting in a lounge chair by the beach for your whole vacation, it is important to understand what your rights are when participating in high-risk recreation.
A Boston injury lawyer can provide insight into what responsibility the operators of tourist activities have if you engage in high risk behavior. In most cases, you can file a lawsuit against the operator of various types of recreational activities even if the operator has had you sign a liability waiver and even if the activity you’re engaging in tends to be an inherently high risk one.
What Happens if Tourists Get Hurt Doing Something Dangerous
Many tourists who get hurt doing various types of high risk activities will assume they have no legal recourse because they “assumed the risk.” Assumption of the risk is a common term used to suggest a person who participates in a potentially dangerous activity like rock climbing or parasailing knows the activity is dangerous and thus cannot blame anyone if something goes wrong.
In Massachusetts, however, assumption of the risk is not a defense which a tour operator or company offering recreational activities can raise. Section 85 of the Massachusetts code states: “The defense of assumption of risk is hereby abolished.” Those offering tours or recreational activities cannot simply absolve themselves of responsibility by saying an injured victim chose to put his or her own life in jeopardy.
Instead, under Massachusetts laws, plaintiffs who bring injury claims are “presumed to have been in the exercise of due care,” which means the presumption is a person was being reasonably careful to protect himself from serious harm in whatever activity he was doing. If a defendant wants to avoid liability for an injury a plaintiff sustained, the defendant is going to have to prove the injury was the cause of the negligence of the plaintiff. In other words, the plaintiff must have done something which caused the injury, rather than the injury occurring as a result of a defendant’s failure to provide a safe space in which to do the activity.
If a defendant can prove a plaintiff did something negligent, this does not necessarily mean the plaintiff will get no compensation at all. Massachusetts is a comparative negligence state, so a victim can still partially recover compensation if the victim shares some blame for an accident. The victim simply loses a portion of compensation based on his or her level of responsibility. If the victim was 10 percent to blame for an accident, the victim’s compensation from the defendant to cover damages will be reduced by 10 percent.
Under these rules, it is clear those who offer tourists the opportunity to do high-risk activities need to ensure they are taking all reasonable precautions and fulfilling their duty to create the safest possible environment. If they fail in their obligations to do so – such as by not providing functional safety equipment – a victim should be able to make a strong case for compensation.
If you have suffered personal injury in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
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Slip-and-Fall Injury Suffered by Child Litigated Years Later, April 2, 2017, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog