Ziplining can be a fun activity for outdoor lovers, adventure-seekers, and families alike. However, ziplining can also be dangerous, particularly when an operator fails to maintain equipment or adhere to the necessary safety standards. Unfortunately, preventable injuries and deaths do happen in zipline accidents. If you or a loved one experienced an accident, you might wonder what to do if hurt from ziplining.
In the first instance, seek medical advice to ensure any injuries are promptly diagnosed and treated. If your injury happened due to a zipline operator’s negligence, you could be entitled to damages, such as medical expenses, income loss, and others. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal system, and move forward with a lawsuit. Get started now and contact Morgan & Morgan for a free consultation.
What Is Ziplining?
A zipline is a steel cable mounted on a slope and suspended in the air. The line can be anchored to various structures such as trees, platforms, and poles. Ziplines are designed so individuals can glide from a higher location to a lower elevation on a pulley, using only gravity. Individuals either hold on to the pulley or are harnessed and attached. Ziplines can be as much as 150 feet off the ground, allowing users great views of the surrounding area. Ziplining is a popular tourism and adventure sports activity.
How Safe Is Ziplining?
Generally, accidents are more likely to happen with homemade or private ziplines than with reputable companies that have to observe safety standards. Moreover, most states set stringent safety requirements for commercial zipline operators.
While ziplining is generally safe, when something does go wrong, injuries can be severe or even fatal. Zipline accidents can occur due to a lack of care or maintenance. While non-commercial operators of ziplines may not abide by safety standards, commercial operators can also be negligent in various ways, contributing to or even causing devastating accidents.
Common Causes of Zipline Accidents
Currently, there are no federal regulations regarding the operation of ziplines. State laws and regulations can diverge widely on the matter. However, even operators following industry safety standards regarding equipment, training, and accident prevention can experience accidents due to negligent conduct. Reasons for zipline accidents can include:
Improper Equipment or Courses
Equipment varies according to users’ age, height, and the nature of the course. If an employee makes a mistake when handing out safety equipment, accidents can occur. Improperly maintained parts, such as worn wires and anchor points, can also cause accidents and injuries.
Negligent Operation of the Zipline
Zipline safety is largely dependent on well-trained, experienced, and responsible staff. If an employee skips checks or is distracted, zipline riders can get injured due to crashes with others or failing to wear appropriate safety gear.
Malfunctioning Brake Systems
When an individual cannot control the speed of their descent due to an improper brake system, they could collide with a person or structure. Crashes and collisions with objects or other individuals can cause devastating accidents and injuries.
Other reasons for accidents can include improper maintenance of the zipline mechanisms and defective design of the cable or parts.
Injuries in Zipline Accidents
As accidents with ziplines typically involve individuals falling from a great height, injuries can be catastrophic and, in the worst case, fatal. Survivors of such accidents could experience lifelong impacts.
According to research published by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), almost 17,000 zipline accident injuries were treated in emergency departments between 1997 and 2012, with 11.7% of patients requiring hospitalization. Most injuries were caused by falls, with fractures the most common injuries recorded. Other zipline injuries include:
- Soft-tissue injuries such as sprains and strains
- Head and brain injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage and paralysis
If you or a loved one suffered a severe injury in a zipline accident, consider speaking to our attorneys to determine whether you could sue and receive compensation.
What to Do if Hurt From Ziplining
If you or a loved one got hurt in a zipline accident, your next best steps could be:
Visit a Doctor
Ensure to get a complete check-up after a zipline accident so a doctor can promptly diagnose and treat any injuries. Seeking medical advice is also crucial if you intend to hold the liable party to account for your damages. A medical report listing your injuries will be vital when looking for compensation. If you do not seek medical help immediately, recovering damages can be challenging. The party responsible could argue that your injuries did not happen in the zipline accident.
Report the Accident
Always report any accident to zipline staff and ask to file a report. The report should include:
- The time and date of the accident
- What happened
- Your injuries
- Contact details of witnesses
An accident report can be essential evidence when it comes to a lawsuit.
Evidence proving the accident and your injury will be critical if you want to file a compensation claim. Proof you can collect at the accident scene and in the days after can include:
- Photographs of the scene, injuries, and faulty equipment
- Accident report
- CCTV camera footage
- Your medical reports
- Medical bills
- Witness statements
- Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Your best next step after a zipline accident can be speaking to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether you have a claim and could pursue compensation. Our personal injury attorneys can protect your legal rights immediately and determine your best course of action for receiving what you deserve.
You Could Have a Personal Injury Case and Receive Damages
A severe injury from a zipline accident can change your life forever and cause high medical costs, loss of income, and other damages. However, even minor or moderate injuries can cause steep medical treatment costs and out-of-pocket expenses. If someone else is responsible for the accident and injuries, they should make you “whole” again. Damages you could pursue in a zipline accident can include, among others:
- Medical bills
- Emotional and physical pain and anguish
- Income loss
- Property damage
- Reduced life quality
- Awards for future income loss and medical expenses
If your loved one died due to a zipline accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation in a wrongful death case can include funeral expenses, loss of income and benefits from the deceased, loss of companionship, and others.
Who Is Liable for Your Injuries?
Usually, commercial zipline operators will ask riders to sign a waiver before using the zipline. Most companies use these waivers to release themselves from liability for injuries and accidents. However, zipline operators cannot always dodge responsibility. If the company acted negligently and failed to ensure that the zipline is safe to use, you could still hold them liable in certain circumstances.
Most zipline operators carry insurance for accidents. While filing an insurance claim can help compensate you for your damages, insurers often drag their heels and deny or minimize such claims. If you cannot recover damages from the operator or their insurer, your only path to justice may be filing a lawsuit against the zipline company. To have a chance of winning the lawsuit, you will have to prove that the zipline operator is responsible for your accident and injury.
The Zipline Operator Is Not Always Responsible
There are some cases where you could pursue compensation from entities other than the zipline company. For example, if your accident happened at a work event, you could potentially hold your employer to account for putting you into a dangerous situation. If defective equipment caused or contributed to your accident, you could hold a manufacturer or parts manufacturer responsible. An attorney from our firm can assess your case and identify all potential avenues for recovering damages.