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What is a Dangerous Sports Waiver?

In Australia, many adventure sports activities are being conducted in which there are elements of danger or real risk of being hurt. Some of these dangerous sports activities include whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, and skydiving in which a participant can be seriously injured when something goes wrong.

In most cases, injuries follow where there are recreation, fitness, or extreme sports activities. We couldn’t tell you the number of times we have seen an ambulance at Mt Stromolo MTB park.

And where there is an injury involved, there is always a possibility of lawsuits that could results in a financial loss to the individual event organisers, companies, or the organisations providing the activity.

Hence, activity-providers should take measures to manage risks in two ways:

  1. organisers should take extra steps to reduce as much possible the likelihood of an injury; and
  2. activity-providers should do everything to protect themselves or their business entity from risks involving financial loss.

This is where a dangerous sports waiver plays an important part.

When Should I Use a Dangerous Sports Waiver?

Dangerous sports waivers are usually designed to protect the organisers of a dangerous sports events from accepting responsibility when an injury occurs.

There are 2 key reasons you want participants to sign dangerous sports waivers:

  • To protect the interests of the organizer/company from any legal action the participant may initiate if an accident occurs during the sporting event; and
  • To make the participant aware of the terms and conditions in participating in such dangerous sports activities.

What Are the Key Clauses in a Dangerous Sports Waiver?

A properly drafted and signed waiver results in a participant’s abandonment of a right to a future legal claim: the participant signing it knowingly relinquishes the right to sue in the event they are injured undertaking the dangerous sport.

Here are some of the important things to consider when it comes to the physical characteristics of the waiver.
  • Is the waiver a separate agreement of one to three pages?
  • Does the waiver have a descriptive title that includes “waiver of Liability”, Release of Liability, “Assumption of Risk,” or “Indemnity”?
  • Does your waiver emphasize the use of underline, bold italics, or upper case letters?
  • Can the reader easily read the waiver?
  • Is the waiver written in language that can be easily understood by the reader?
Some of the important clauses in a dangerous sports waiver include the following:

Assumption of risks

  • Does the participant acknowledge and fully agree that they are aware of any risks involved in the dangerous sport activity?
  • Does the participant understand the risks involved with the sport they willingly agreed to participate in?

Acknowledgement of Fitness

  • Does the participant assure that they are in good health, physically fit, and not suffering from any disease which might put themselves or other participants at risk or danger?
Participants’ sole responsibility for their actions and conduct while participating in the adventure sport:

The waiver should state that:

  • the participant agrees to comply with the stated terms and conditions of participation; and
  • that the participant shall not hold the employees, instructors, conductors, owners, or anyone responsible for injuries that might happen to them.
  • the waiver should also make it clear that the event organisers and the organisation itself will not be responsible for any negligence (however it is cause or arises).

What if the participants are minor?

Generally speaking, participants in sports activities are usually divided into two age groups. The first group consists of persons age 8 to 15 or termed as the “kids group”. The other one is the “adult group” in which persons age 16 years old and above belong to. For the kid’s group, one parent or guardian should accompany the child during the activity to monitor their child.

But the key issue with both of those groups is that to enter into a contract is Australia you need to be 18. So in both cases the parents of the child will need to sign the waiver and accept the responsibility for injury on behalf of the child.

You dangerous sports waiver should be draft to allow parents to accept the waiver on behalf of their kids.

What Are the Biggest Risks with a Dangerous Sports Waiver?

Oftentimes, a dangerous sports waiver fails because they are not carefully drafted and well written. This is why organizers or companies offering a dangerous sports activity should know what to include in a contract. Some of the factors to consider when writing a waiver includes the following:

  • The language should be clear, unambiguous and can be easily understood by an average person
  • The waiver should clearly specify the intent to release the organizer or activity-provider from liability generally and from liability for negligence.
  • The waiver must be brought to the participant’s attention before they agree to participate in a dangerous sports activity and should be signed by them before participating.
  • The participant must be free to choose to accept (or reject) the terms and conditions written in the dangerous sports waiver. If the participant rejects the waiver then they should not be allowed to participate in the activity and they should be refunded any amounts they have paid to participate.

Does it Matter if I Don’t Have a Dangerous Sports Waiver?

It is important to remember that there is no perfect formula for a perfect dangerous sports waiver. And since there is no foolproof waiver, you might ask, “Why bother?” The answer is plain and simple.

A Dangerous Sports Waiver can protect a business, company, or an individual from any liability for negligence which could mean the difference between losing or keeping your house.

Since waivers provide low-cost liability protection, doesn’t it make sense to create and use the best dangerous sports waiver possible to enhance the likelihood of that protection?

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.

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