Summer Activities and Liability

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It’s finally summer — a time of barbecues, fireworks, summer camps, and a plethora of fun, outdoor activities. Unfortunately, these activities can lead to accidents and injuries. Summertime, according to Barbara Gaines, a trauma surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, is also known as “trauma season” for emergency rooms across the county.

To add to that, the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported 550,000 bicycle, 181,000 swimming, and 29,000 water sports injuries in 2011.

While treating injuries are the top priority, resolving the issues involving the liability of such accidents is also essential. Let’s delve into who’s liable during incidents involving certain rental activities.

Renting a Kayak

Kayaking is an incredibly popular summertime activity but also risky. According to the USCG Recreational Boating Statistics, 94 kayaking fatalities occurred in 2017, making kayaking fairly high-risk.

Who is typically liable in a kayaking incident — the rental company, the manufacturing company, or the passengers of the kayak who may have acted recklessly (e.g., pushing a kayaker out of the kayak without a life vest).

With that being said, rental companies can protect themselves and limit liability by having renters sign a waiver before renting a kayak. A kayak rental waiver generally states that renters agree and understand the nature of kayaking, are healthy enough to kayak, will discontinue usage of kayak underneath unsafe conditions, and so on.

Many waivers also disallow kayakers and their families to sue the rental company or its affiliates in the event of an incident, as the renter would assume all liability.

Renting a Bike

As stated initially, bike injuries make up the highest number of summertime injuries. Even more shocking is that bicycle injuries account for 1.2 million doctor’s visits, 23,000 hospital admissions, and 900 deaths each year in the United States.

In concerns with renting a bike, liability can fall on the rental company unless the renter (or the renter’s child) does not wear a helmet or the company limits said liability.

One method to limit liability is a bike rental waiver, which must be signed before the customer rents the bike. This waiver may include agreements stating that the biker understands the hazards of renting a bicycle, that the biker is healthy, and that the biker assumes the responsibility of all risk of injury or loss of life.

Renting a Surfboard

Renting a surfboard is fun but risky. While surfing is safer than soccer – there are 13 acute amateur and professional surfing injuries per 1,000 hours – injuries can still occur, with lacerations being the most common injury among surfers.

Of course, depending on the accident and injuries, the surfboard rental company can be sued for any damages caused by the incident.

Fortunately, like kayak and bike rental companies, surfboard rental companies can distribute a waiver, which ensures that both parties acknowledge the conditions of the rental, the hazards of renting a surfboard, and what may happen in certain events, such as when the surfboard is damaged.

Overall, a surfboard rental agreement limits the liability of the rental company, protecting the company from being sued by the renter or any third parties.