Many people might assume that a personal injury attorney would be naturally adverse to zip lining because he must hear about horrible accidents and all of the particular details regarding the injuries. Well, that certainly is true to a degree. I do often hear about injuries caused by zip lines, but I also hear about injuries caused by car and motorcycle accidents, slip and fall injuries at stores and restaurants, swimming pool injuries, injuries due to defective products and medical malpractice injuries. If I were to avoid all of the activities from which I hear about injuries I would never ride my motorcycle, go to the doctor or visit a store. So, why the emphasis on zip lines? Basically, because federal safety standards do not exist and many states are unwilling or unable to draft and enforce safety standards and perform inspections, your safety is dependent upon what a profit-seeking operation considers “safe enough” to make money.
Dangerous Regardless of the Operation’s Size
Consider some of the following zip line accidents illustrating the general insufficient safety precautions implemented by homemade, small operations and even major zip line operators:
• Grafton Zip Line Tree Collision (2013) – An Illinois woman participated in a zip line event at a large Grafton zip line company. At the end of the line the brake system failed to slow her as she approached the platform. She ended up striking a tree to which the landing platform was attached suffering numerous fractures and requiring surgery in which a plate and screws were implemented. Had the operator provided an emergency braking system, designed the platform to provide a larger landing area, and installed adequate padding on tree the participant’s injuries could have been prevented or reduced.
• Easton Zip Line Tree Collapse (2014) – A Massachusetts boy was killed when an anchor tree collapsed crushing him. Even previously secured anchors can become unsafe following heavy rainfalls.
• Zip Line Accident Causes Laceration, Amputation (2012) – A Georgia woman fell from a zip line when the line snapped. She suffered injuries including severe lacerations which developed secondary infections. She ended up having multiple limbs amputated.
• Hugh Jackman’s Zip Line Flub (2011) – Attempting to make a splashy entrance on Oprah, and despite being guided by numerous professionals and safety experts, Jackman’s zip line failed to stop causing him to slam into the stage lighting and rigging striking his head. Jackman, and all who witnessed the stunt gone awry, were visibly shaken. After the initial shock had worn off, Jackman immediately sought on-site medical treatment. An emergency brake may have prevented this injury.
• Maui Zip Line Fall (2014) – A zip line company employee plummeted more than 150 feet to her death after falling from a zip line. It is unclear how the zip line became detached, but backup systems could have prevented the fall.
It is clear that injury can occur at zip line operations of all sizes. If people can be injured at major zipline operations like in Grafton and Maui, I would never even consider a small mom and pop operation. Further the best professional stunt people, as provided by Oprah, cannot ensure a safe experience should give you further pause before you consider a zip line excursion.
Insult on Top of Injury
If the horrific injuries suffered by zip line riders weren’t enough, many operations attempt to blame the victim for their own injuries. This is especially insulting considering the frequent industry assurances that zip lines are perfectly safe and that the companies blame people when they are injured and at their most vulnerable.
I hope this piece provides valuable insight into why I will never ride on a zip line. While I hope you heed my advice and never suffer a serious injury due to zip lining, human judgment is fallible.
If you do suffer an injury, an experienced and aggressive personal injury lawyer can assist you in holding the company responsible for its negligence, failure to provide warnings or failure to supervise. If you have been involved in a zip line accident, contact personal injury lawyers Reiff & Bily today for your free consultation.