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Hawaii bungee jumping: how might the lack of state law affect injuries?

Hawaii bungee jumping: how might the lack of state law affect injuries?

December 30, 2013

Bungee jumping, the extreme sport that many say produces an adrenaline rush like no other, is popular in many of the world’s most exotic places – including Hawaii. However, while many U.S. states and other countries have strict laws pertaining to bungee jumping, Hawaii does not. So, how might the lack of law in the Aloha state affect personal injuries?

WHAT HAWAII LAW DOES REQUIRE

Hawaii’s Department of Labor &Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety & Health requires bungee jumping operators to obtain a permit once every year and have their equipment inspected for safety. However, aside from some restrictions about bungee jumping off of bridges in Zone 5 of the National Forest, that’s about it. In fact, helmets are not required by state law either, although many bungee jumping operators require their use for liability purposes.

Bungee jumpers who are injured may face some challenges in recovering for their injuries – especially since state law on the sport is lacking. While operators will generally have some form of liability insurance, it’s more likely that bungee jumpers will have to sign a waiver saying that they understand that what they’re about to do is dangerous and that they “assume the risk” of doing so.

ASSUMPTION OF THE RISK: WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

“Assumption of the risk” is a legal term that is a defense in tort law. It basically says that the person engaging in an inherently dangerous activity assumes the risk and cannot later hold the defendant (in this case, the bungee jumping operator) liable for any injuries sustained.

Unless the equipment broke, didn’t fit properly, the operator let you jump in bad weather or in an unreasonably dangerous area, recovery can be an issue. That being said, it is not impossible, and operators can be held liable for unsafe practices – despite signed waivers that might say differently. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is the only way to find out whether you might have a cause of action.

IS BUNGEE JUMPING SAFE?

The answer to that is likely who you ask, as there is very little statistical data available. However, according an article published on Livestrong.com, bungee jumpers should consider these four things when deciding on whether to take the leap:

  • Health. Anyone who suffers from certain medical conditions, such as high or low blood pressure, back problems, asthma, circulatory diseases, heart problems or head injuries, should get a doctors’ clearance beforehand.
  • Location. Where you jump should be clear of debris and suspended objects and high enough that you can still clear the ground safely – regardless of whether the company uses an air bag or webbing device to catch jumpers.
  • Equipment. Make sure that the equipment used by the company is safe and, like in Hawaii, is subject to safety testing.
  • Professional Support. There isn’t an official organization that oversees bungee jumping safety procedures, so do a bit of research beforehand to make sure that the company you choose is reputable and has a good safety record.

However, one thing is for sure, thousands of people engage in the sport all over the world every year and reports of injury are rare. In fact, many bungee jumping enthusiasts say that you’re more likely to get injured driving than you are bungee jumping. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be safe, choose a reputable bungee jumping operator and seek the medical and legal help you need if you are injured.

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