Think before you ink

Garry Hertzberg.
Garry Hertzberg.

WHEN we embark on a daredevil adventure, we know that something could go horribly wrong.

However, too many of us are far too quick to sign the indemnity forms handed to us – without even reading the clauses. In many cases we are, in fact, signing our lives away. In the event of a loss or injury, we are our own problem after we have signed these forms. Or are we?

It is important to remember that regardless of whether or not we have signed an indemnity form, the presence of gross negligence on the part of the parties issuing the form will make them liable.

Say, for instance, if a bungee jumping company provides their clients with inferior, worn out ropes and somebody is injured, the company will be held liable because of the presence of gross negligence. It is, however, important to remember that in our law, gross negligence is a difficult thing to prove.

A few years ago Robbie went skydiving. As an adrenaline junkie, he did not think before signing the indemnity form and could not wait to jump out of the airplane at more than 200km per hour. Unfortunately, the winds were not working in his favour and he had a bumpy landing. Robbie broke both of his legs and was confined to a wheelchair for eight months. Due to the fact that it was the wind and unpredictable circumstances which led to the accident, Robbie did not even consider suing the skydiving company.

A concern for parents is the form they are handed when enrolling their children in school. Clauses that imply that the school will not be held liable for any damages make parents feel uneasy. Parents are left to wonder who, exactly, will be held accountable if their child chokes, drowns or severely hurts themselves in any way. Once again, the important question of whether or not gross negligence was present needs to be asked.

The consumer can rest assured that if a floor is slippery or a parachute is faulty, somebody will pay – and that somebody is usually not the consumer.

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