Sign Your Life Away – Do Waivers Stop You From Claiming?

When you take part in any activity that could pose a physical risk, like a sporting competition or events such as the newly popular extreme assault courses, you will most probably sign a waiver. These waivers record that you accept that there is a risk of you being injured while taking part. But does that absolve all blame from the organiser?

Spartan races are fast becoming one of the mot popular extreme race events in the world

Event Insurance

All event organisers, including sports and team building obstacle race holders, will be required to have insurance and be expected to have made precautions for any accidents that could happen. This usually includes arranging for first aiders to be present and ensuring that there is suitable access for emergency services, as well as ensuring the venue is appropriate and that participants are prepared and aware of any risks. This insurance is necessary as,, although participants suffering minor scrapes, bruises or even minor breaks are covered under the waiver; negligence of any form is not and should it occur, it would leave the event organiser liable.

The now worldwide giant, Tough Mudder, has come under criticism for injuries caused since it’s inception in 2010. With runners electrocuted by 10,000 volt cables and sustaining some brutal punishment over the courses, some have suggested that a lack of care has been taken with the obstacle design. With some events seeing deaths, paralysis and major injuries in recent years, the question of negligence has lingered for some time.

The same idea of waivers not covering negligent actions applies to sports too. Many sports have governing bodies which issue insurance to members covering injury during training sessions and competition; with additional insurance available for instructors. However, liability waivers do not cover acts of negligence on behalf of coaches, referees or other participants. Should another competitor intentionally injure you or a referee fails to act within their duty of care to all participants, then those actions fall outside of a waiver and give a person the right to claim compensation.

Serious injury during sports or tough mudders

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Waiver Legality

A waiver is designed to fulfil the legal requirement that the participant in an activity is aware of the potential risk and is still willing to participate. Although some waivers may mention complete absolution from liability, this isn’t actually a true statement.

Legally if a company, organiser or governing body of an event have done all within their power to oversee the safety of participants, then injury cannot bring forth a personal injury claim. However, if those same authorities have in fact been negligent in their preparation and allowed for slips in safety procedures, then a claim can be made.

Sincere Law has represented both athletes and race participants in the past for these situations. The challenge for the solicitor of an injured individual is to prove the accident was the fault of negligence.

 

Proving Fault

While not an easy process, it can be determined,  with some investigation by a solicitor, as to whether the waiver signed covers the accident or not. Looking into previous injuries using the apparatus, the health and wellbeing of the person involved and the situation surrounding the incident all come into play.

While we would never discourage anybody from participating in a sport that has injury risks or completing an obstacle race with risky sections, Sincere Law would always advise being in the best possible condition to safely compete/complete a course and also be aware of the proper rules and procedures for participation.

With some research suggesting an average of 1.72 people being taken to hospital per 1,000 entrants for extreme obstacle races, you need to be sure you can safely complete them as well as having fun doing so.

tough mudder serious injury claims

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

If you have been involved in a sporting event or an obstacle race and have suffered a serious injury, then do not hesitate to get in touch with Sincere Law. We operate on a No Win No Fee basis and, after an initial no hassle call, we can ascertain whether you have a potential claim. We also offer a £250 recommend a friend scheme in which you can earn £250 for recommending Sincere Law to a friend. Our lines are open from 9am until 8pm daily so get in touch today!

Hoverboards: No. 1 Christmas Toy or Serious Injury Risk?

October 21st 2015. If Back to the Future II is to be correct in it’s prophecy, we will very shortly be exposed to Jaws 19, wearing two ties and the most anticipated of inventions, the hoverboard. We haven’t managed to fulfill these prophecies as of yet, but what we do have is a new invention that allows us to move around with ease. A new segway style product labelled the hoverboard has gone from obscurity, to being a “must have” in just 1 year.

The rise of the hoverboard

Sincere LAw Hoverboard Trend Research

A small foray into Google Trends will tell you that before March of 2014, the term “hoverboard” was a seldom searched term, with the only real interest being from fans of the Back to the Future movie franchise. However, interest has suddenly spiked and has been on an extreme upward curve ever since. The most recent spike in interest happened in the summer of this year, when celebrities around the world started posting videos of their brand new toys around the house.


Kendall Jenner doing laps

The offspring of the segway, the “self balancing two wheeled board”, originally became a reality in 2013, with the invention of the “Smart S1”, a board designed in China. Within months of the initial launch the online giant, Alibaba, had many listings of almost exact replicas from independent companies who were making copycat varieties of the S1.

Overseas in the US, a company labelled PhunkeeTree decided to make their own version and market it to the states, creating the PhunkeeDuck, which gained popularity by appearing on the much watched late night TV chat show “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. The board gained widespread popularity and it was not long before we began to see British Youtubers and celebrities place their own videos using them online (with varying degrees of success). In the UK the popular name for the boards are “Swegway” and “Hoverboard” and the product us quickly becoming popular, with sales rising month on month.


Joe Weller tries the Swegway

Legal Implications

In the UK, the popularity of the boards has led the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider the legal status surrounding them. While they are usually bought as personal treats or gifts, which are normally used around the house, some owners have been using them as transportation out and about, once they have learned how to control their board.

Authorities have taken the stance that due to a law aged at around 180 years old, a ban has been put in place for the use of them outside of private land. Law states that because they contain a motor, they are powered vehicles and therefore usage is not allowed on pavements. In conjunction with this it has also been determined they are not safe enough to use on a road, with their top speed at being less than 5mph on average and the precarious standing balance required to pilot one.

The banning order has created a backlash from the public, as sales of the boards have actually increased rapidly since the announcement was made from the CPS earlier in October. On some websites that sell the boards, traffic increased by “215% within 24 hours” such was the increase in interest.

The police are advising people to think of the safety implications of using hoverboards in public, while users are asking what the harm is of taking theirs onto the pavement for a quick spin.

 

sincere law, serious injury claims specialists

Fun vs. Accountability

Arguments in favour of the hoverboard being usable outside of your house revolve around the common sense use of the alleged ‘vehicle’ out in public. The hoverboard is seen by many as a toy and no different to other methods of transport that are similar, which have also in the past seen spikes in interest, including bikes, skateboards and scooters. Former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Lembit Opik supports the calls to lift the ban (which includes conventional segways) stating “They are immensely environmentally friendly. They help people who have limited mobility. You are high, so are highly visible, and for short journeys in cities, which are clogged up not least because of insane investment in cycle lanes, Segways are in many ways going to be faster than cars.” He infamously participated in a segway protest outside the houses of parliament back in 2010 to challenge the law banning them from the streets.

The BBC asked the public what they thought about them with the feedback being mostly positive from those using the boards. Remarking how useful they can be, one woman commented “I think it exercises your muscles, so I use it to work out. I play with my niece on it. You can dance with it – I’ve taken it to a club. I’ve ridden it in 4in heels”. One pensioner thinking it could be a very useful tool for the elderly, said “I think it would be great for getting around supermarkets”.

In opposition, there are fears that due to their unstable nature, being around on them in public could lead to accidents involving other pedestrians, cyclists, bikers and motorists. There has been plenty of video evidence online of people trying to learn how to use the boards but struggling to properly control them. If a user was not 100% in control around a public road and accidentally veered off or fell from their board, the effect of what could happen could be catastrophic.

An added fear is of the reliability of the product itself. Badly designed versions of Hoverboards have been known to catch fire while charging, triggering a very serious product liability issue. While these types of incidents so far have been limited, the rapid growth of buys has lead to more incidents (such as this one in New York) potentially manifesting.

The battleground is between common sense vs. risk of injury. Many people are calling for the hoverboard ban to be lifted as they carry the same risks as a bike, scooter or skateboard; while on the other hand, others do not want hoverboard owners colliding with them while walking or driving, creating a potential serious injury claim minefield as legality, liability and duties of care will all potentially be disputed in each incident.

The facts ‘for’

• Seen as a toy by users
• Very similar to scooters, bikes and skateboards (all legal)
• Cannot travel fast enough to cause serious incidents
• Common sense usage will keep everyone safe

The facts ‘against’

• Law states it is a vehicle due to motor
• Unsteady driving position could be a source of accidents
• Board is difficult to control properly and prone to veering off course
• Ability to cause bruising/damage pedestrians are hit
• Currently carries no requirement for safety equipment adding to risk level

The hoverboard ban, your say

The ban on hoverboards has caused plenty of discussion online, including a petition to have it overturned by the CPS. Tweets on both sides are still being exchanged; here is a selection of your opinions on the matter:

 

 

 

What is a “Duty of Care”?

The Dalai Lama was once quoted saying:

“If you shift your focus from yourself to others, extend your concern to others, and cultivate the thought of caring for the well being of others, then this will have the immediate effect of opening up your life and helping you to reach out”.

When we speak of what a duty of care is, it is surprisingly similar to what the revered Dalai Lama was trying to put across here that we should make sure to show care and attention for everyone around us. It may not be the dictionary definition for duty of care, but it definitely puts us on the right track.

duty of care - serious injury claims

Your duty defined

A duty of care is what we owe to anyone we interact with, in any guise of life. We owe a duty of care to our fellow drivers, our fellow employees, our fellow human beings. Before we go into any detail, let’s take a look at some definitions on a duty of care:

A “duty of care” is:

“a legal obligation which is imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could cause foreseeable harm to others” – Wikipedia

“the legal obligation to safeguard others from harm while they are in your care, using your services, or exposed to your activities” – Collins dictionary

“a requirement that a person act towards others and the public with watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person in the circumstances would” – Legal dictionary

From the above we can see that a duty of care is owed by any and all people who have some relationship to another person in any form. This includes professional working relationships and special relationships, like using roads, being in the same room or walking on the same pavement.

Relationships in a duty of care do not just extend to a traditional relationship, as soon as you come into contact with somebody else, you will owe them a duty of care. In the simplest sense, for example, we would owe everybody we walk past a duty of care not to flail our arms while walking, as it could cause injury. The same applies while driving to not break the law and drive dangerously, as that could also cause serious injury.

Breaching your duty

How do you breach your duty and what happens following one? Simple, you are in breach if you do not uphold the behaviour, care and attention that would be expected in any given situation; situations such as:

• Being hit by somebody driving erratically, causing a collision
• Your employer having you perform a task, risking injury due to improper PPE, prior training or an unsafe working environment
• Being injured and trusting your health to a medical practitioner, your condition then worsens due to their misjudgement


Doctors owe a professional duty of care to take care of their patients

You are owed a duty to be treated in a safe manner in all aspects of life. Failing to do so could allow you to claim on a serious injury if the actions caused by another are seen to be negligent. You can see many examples of this by viewing our case studies to see the result of a duty breached.

Aftermath of a breach

An incident caused by negligence can result in severe injuries. Back in 2013, 69% of fatal road traffic accidents were the result of negligent driver errors; alongside that 66% of serious incidents also involved that same contributory factor. Our duties are not restricted to the road however; they also count at work and during our everyday lives.

Having dealt with serious injury cases for over 20 years we understand the devastating effect that negligent behaviour can have on a person and their family. Rehabilitation, physiotherapy and psychotherapy from the most serious incidents can take many months or years to recover from.

Sincere Law will always strive to help you or your loved one not only recover, but to get back to as normal a life as possible, following serious injury.

If you or a family member have been affected by someone else’s negligent actions, please get in touch on 0800 092 2896 to speak to one of our friendly advisers or contact us at www.sincerelaw.co.uk. All of our solicitors work on a no win, no fee basis, meaning you get free impartial advice with no commitment and no payments to make if we aren’t successful.

 

The 5 most common work accidents and injuries

Workplace injuries are commonplace in the UK. While we often have training, risk assessments and dedicated staff in place to reduce the number of incidents, they do still happen. Being a serious injury specialist, Sincere Law deals with these kinds of injury cases on a daily basis. What however, are the most common accidents found within the workplace? We’ve put together the top 5 most common accident type to help you stay alert and avoid serious injury while at work.

1. Slips, trips & falls

Slips, trips and falls are by a long way the most common cause of serious injury to UK workers. In 2014 the number of combined serious slips, trips and falls reported by employees reached just over 27,500.

What’s interesting about this number reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was that all these reported accidents included only incidents resulting in a more than 7 day absence from work. According to statistics, 57% of major injuries to UK employees were the result of a slip, trip or fall on duty.

This type of injury can seriously damage somebody; from slipping on a wet floor and fracturing bones, to tripping over poorly placed objects, causing a fall and potentially risking severe damage to not only bones but the brain if the fall is particularly bad. Negligence is quite often the reason for these accidents, with incorrect equipment, unsafe environments and poor direction being the main causes.

2. Manual handling accidents

With over 18,500 workers injured by manual handling incidents in 2014 (accounting for nearly a quarter of reported injuries) these accidents make up a large number of serious injuries at work each year. Of those injured, 9 out of 10 of 2014’s manual handling accidents involved a longer than 7 day period away from work.

Handling injuries can be incredibly detrimental to the long term health of an employee, even risking their future. The most common injury caused by handling is strain and damage to the back, spine and neck. Spinal injuries can result in permanent trouble with movement, requiring lengthy spells of physiotherapy and possibly forcing early retirement if the person affected cannot perform manual tasks following injury.

Common causes of spinal injuries due to handling are overburdening of a staff member by asking to move something around their workplace and not providing proper training on how to lift and carry. Heavier loads usually require apparatus or machines to move. Proper equipment/machinery should always be provided to avoid injury.

serious injury while at work - Sincere Law

3. Car collisions

Driving is big business in the UK. Thousands of people drive each day in company cars to and from meetings alongside those using the roads keeping our logistics network running strong, be it in a van or a heavy goods vehicle (HGV).

In 2014, 1,504 employees were involved in collisions that resulted in a stay away from work longer than a week. Road traffic accidents can obviously stem a range of injury problems from whiplash, giving the driver back, neck and head problems, to the most severe lacerations, amputations and even fatalities.

4. Burns

Burns at work can come in the form not only as burns from fires; electrical burns can badly scar a person just as much as direct flames. Other burn types include exposure directly to harmful substances like acids or other corrosive materials. The result can be anything from large sections of skin peeling to permanent disfigurement.

Burns as a result of exposure accounts for just over 1,000 serious injuries per year according to HSE statistics. The riskiest environments involve employees who deal with fire or corrosives on a regular basis, working with open flames or handling chemicals for example. The aftermath of burns can be long lasting and have detrimental effects on the victim’s self esteem in later life if they have been disfigured as a result of their accident.

5. Electrical accidents

Everybody is aware of the danger electricity can cause. According to statistical analysis, there are around 1,000 cases of electric shocks in the workplace each year.

Even the lowest voltages such as a 50v plug can apply enough electricity to block signals between brain and muscles, risking the heart stopping, prevention of breathing or intense spasms. Electrical accidents are commonly caused by a failure to identify a risk of electrocution due to exposed wires, faulty equipment or lack of PPC.

Electrical damage can be extremely severe with serious, long lasting, even life changing effects. These include disfigurement and burns from skin contact, loss of function in limbs and long term damage to nerves/nerve endings as well as fatality if the voltage has caused the heart to stop beating properly or affected body function.

Sincere Law - Accidents at work

Be Aware!

With thousands of injuries at work each year, severe and minor, we all need to be aware of risks of our particular workplace. Our advice would be to be proactive and actively challenge managers should you be given incorrect equipment or dangerous instructions and to move any objects likely to cause falls or clean up spillages. Reducing risk is the number 1 priority in workplace safety and in an ideal world everybody will do their part to help not only themselves but their workmates too.

If you have unfortunately suffered as a result of a workplace injury that wasn’t your fault, make sure you call us today for free advice and a no hassle conversation on 0800 092 2896. Alternatively simply fill in our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.