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What Happens When a Dangerous Activity Goes Wrong?

Thrill-seeking hobbies and dangerous activities have surged in popularity as more people seek the adrenaline rush of pushing boundaries. From skydiving to extreme sports, these high-risk pursuits offer exhilarating experiences but also carry an inherent risk of serious injury or death. As we delve into the complex world of wrongful death claims, it's important to understand what happens when the pursuit of adventure takes a tragic turn.

Companies require waivers for participation in dangerous activities as a measure to limit their legal liability in case of accidents or injuries. These waivers, also known as "liability waivers" or "release of liability" agreements, are intended to inform participants of potential risks involved in the activity and to secure their consent to assume those risks. By signing a waiver, participants often agree not to hold the company responsible for any harm they might suffer because of the activity. So, when someone dies during a dangerous activity after signing a waiver, it can complicate the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action filed when the negligence or wrongful act of another causes someone's death. A claim can also be filed against a company if it is found that the company's negligence or misconduct resulted in an individual's death. The claim would be filed against the company as a legal entity, and if successful, the compensation would be paid from the company's resources.

Whether the claim is brought against a company that fails to maintain safe conditions at a workplace, resulting in a fatal accident, or an individual who created dangerous conditions that lead to the death of another, a wrongful death suit provides recourse to the loved ones of a victim or multiple victims.

Important conditions to note when considering filing a wrongful death claim in Pennsylvania:

  • The right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is reserved for those with a recognized connection to a deceased person’s estate.
  • The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit include medical and funeral expenses, estate administration costs, loss of services and support, and pain and suffering.
  • Pennsylvania law does not cap the dollar amount of damages that can be awarded in wrongful death lawsuits.
  • It's important to note that wrongful death claims in Pennsylvania must be filed within two years of the date of death, according to the state's statute of limitations.
  • Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means if the decedent was partially at fault for their own death, damages could be reduced proportionally.

Laws surrounding wrongful death claims can be complex and difficult to navigate without legal experience, so consulting a qualified wrongful death attorney in Pennsylvania is highly recommended to understand your rights and options.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Cases Involving Dangerous Activities

Understanding whether you have a viable wrongful death lawsuit in a case involving a dangerous activity can be complex. Many waiver forms are signed before an individual may patriciate in a high-risk recreational activity like skydiving or skiing. These waivers are frequently enforceable if they are well-written. However, the scope of an accident, should one occur, also must be encompassed within the contracts. An attorney can examine the details of your case and determine if the waiver can be invalidated. There are instances where legal teams have proven that a company acted negligently or recklessly beyond what was outlined in the waiver or that the waiver itself was not legally valid or enforceable, which would make it possible to pursue a wrongful death claim.

In the U.S., whether a business operator becomes liable for a catastrophe can depend on the laws of the state where the business operates or even a judge's interpretation of the waiver form. There's some variation from activity to activity and jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Take, for instance, the recent decision by five people to undertake a dangerous undersea voyage to visit the wreck of the Titanic. Legal experts and the public have raised questions about the liabilities assumed by people and businesses taking part in risky activities. In the case of OceanGate, guests were asked to sign a liability waiver. A former passenger, the longtime television writer Mike Reiss, said that signing the waiver emphasized the possibility of death. But that may still not absolve the company in a wrongful death case. Most courts will not let an operator off the hook if an operator behaves recklessly.

Ultimately, the mere existence of a liability waiver will not always deter a lawsuit. Numerous suits are filed against skydiving, scuba, parasailing, and other extreme-activity companies yearly, some of which result in large settlements. However, it’s important to remember that these cases can take years to litigate. While experts say that no set rubric determines whether a company will have to pay damages in the event of a mishap. Most operators buy liability insurance anyway because the waiver forms they ask clients to sign may not be enforceable.

Contact the Wrongful Death Attorneys at Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George Today

Navigating the complexities of wrongful death laws can be challenging without a firm grasp of legal knowledge. As such, it's strongly advised to seek out the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney. A seasoned attorney will ensure clients comprehend their rights and potential courses of action.

If you've suffered a loss and believe it may fit the standard of a wrongful death lawsuit, don't hesitate to reach out for professional legal guidance. The experienced attorneys at Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George can guide you through this challenging time with compassion.

Contact us at (724) 576-8855 or use our online portal to schedule your consultation today.