Ziplines are among recent attractions that have gained widespread popularity, for adventure-seekers and families seeking diversion alike. Commercial zipline operators offer services to customers of all ages and levels of experience, which opens the business up to families with children, teens, and groups of young adults.
However, ziplining can be dangerous, especially if a company has subpar safety standards. It isn’t uncommon for zipline accidents to occur due to negligence in the design and operation of courses. Injuries are quite common for zipline participants and some have even lost their lives in tragic accidents that the zipline company or others could have prevented with due care. This article explains the risks of ziplining and how victims of injury or families who have lost a loved one to ziplining can recover compensation.
What Is Ziplining?
A zipline is a cable suspended in the air and anchored on various structures or natural elements, such as poles, trees, and platforms. The zipline is installed at a slope to allow a user to glide in the air from an elevated location down to a lower location. Users are harnessed and buckled onto the cable line and travel across ziplines, typically at significant heights, averaging between 40 and 150 feet from the ground.
Risks and Dangers of Ziplines
You can find ziplines in many settings, from commercial outfitters to camps and even your neighbor’s backyard. While some states impose strict safety requirements and regulate commercial ziplining companies, these standards might not apply to non-commercial operators, which can include private homeowners and establishments that provide ziplines as part of summer day camps and sleepover camps.
The harsh reality is that any fall from a zip line is likely to result in serious injuries or a fatality. The height, coupled with the exposure of a participant to falls or impacts with nearby objects, can result in catastrophic injuries. Most zipline accidents occur because of someone’s lack of care. Zipline operations require quality safety equipment and constant monitoring of the conditions of a course and equipment to keep participants safe. Non-commercial operations don’t always live up to these requirements, and even some commercial operators conduct their business negligently in one or more ways.
Common causes of zipline accidents include:
- Inexperienced guides or operators
- Failures of safety equipment provided participants
- Improper maintenance
- Lack of frequent and routine inspection of all lines and platforms
- Defective design of the zipline course or parts
Most Common Outcomes of Zipline Accidents
Injuries in zipline accidents can be horrific and even fatal. An accident typically involves a zipliner falling from the top of the line down several, even well-over 100, feet. If the fall doesn’t result in death, survivors are likely to experience lifelong impacts. While most zipline injuries result from falls from heights, other injuries can result from collisions with objects or other riders on the descent.
Some of the most common zipline injuries include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Soft-tissue injuries such as bruises
- Sprains or strains
- Complete or partial paralysis
- Head related injuries, including TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries)
Can I Hold a Zipline Operator Responsible for Injuries or Death in a Zipline Accident?
A commercial zipline operation will probably ask you to sign a waiver of liability to participate in this “inherently dangerous” activity. Operators use these waivers to skirt responsibility for injuries sustained while partaking in the services they provide.
While a waiver may allow operators to dodge legal liability in limited circumstances, these waivers typically cannot provide complete immunity. Although the participant signed a generic liability waiver, plaintiffs can often hold zipline companies liable for injuries if they acted negligently either in their actions or lack of action during the design or operation of the zipline.
In many cases, zipline operators will carry liability insurance for the services they provide. However, insurance policies for dangerous activities such as ziplining can be complex. In some instances, insurance may outright deny the claim based on the coverage of the zipline owner and the nature of the activity involved. An insurance claim is one avenue to seek compensation for your losses, but it is not your only option. In many situations, you may sue the operators or owners of the zipline or property where an injury occurred in court for your losses if their insurer refuses to pay a claim.
What Monetary Compensation Could You Be Entitled to After a Zipline Accident?
What started as a day of fun and adventure can suddenly change your life forever. Even injuries on the more minor end of zipline injuries may result in high medical expenses for immediate treatment. Serious injury can require expensive prolonged medical care, and cause a victim to miss work after the accident. As a victim of a zipline accident, you could pursue compensation, also referred to as damages, for the losses you suffer after an accident.
Damages in a zipline accident case can include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Income losses, both those incurred before a settlement or court award and those anticipated
- Physical, emotional, and psychological pain and suffering
- Damage to personal property caused by the accident
- Reduced quality and enjoyment of your life
Losses associated with the wrongful death of a loved one, such as funeral and burial expenses as well as loss of companionship
How a Lawyer Can Help You with a Ziplining Accident Case
If you are injured while on a zipline or a loved one has tragically lost their life in a zipline accident, it’s in your best interest to contact a lawyer for further guidance in your case. Whether you face insurance claims for the injuries you sustained, or may need to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible, an attorney can help you understand your legal rights as well as what damages you may recover.