This is an excerpt from Human Resource Management in Sport and Recreation-4th Edition by Packianathan Chelladurai & Amy Chan Hyung Kim.
Legal Considerations in Human Resource Management
The issue of determining the legal liability of sport participants for sport-related injuries, which is defined as “the prerequisites and conditions setting out the limits within which a sports participant is liable (or not) for an injury inflicted to one’s fellow participant during a sport event” (p. l77), has been a complex issue (Kralik 2013). If one is injured during a sport event, under which circumstances and conditions and to which extent does the existing law apply to such injury?
In 2013, while participating in a Tough Mudder competition in West Virginia, a young competitor drowned while completing the “walk the plank” obstacle that required the contestant to plummet 15 feet into dark water below. Before the rescue dive team tried to find him, critical seconds had already passed. In the end, he spent about nine minutes under water before he was rescued. While he had a pulse when he was rescued, at the request of his family, he was removed from life support the next day. The family filed a lawsuit against the Tough Mudder race based on its negligence in its organization and supervision of racers. The case settled a couple of weeks before the trial.
Tough Mudder attempted to depend on its “death waiver” signed by the victim before the event. Even though the waiver states Tough Mudder is released from liability in the event a participant is killed, courts across the United States have overruled these types of agreements as being too one-sided in favor of event-hosting organizations (Beresini 2016; CMZ Law 2019).