Visitor Question

Neighbor Injured Back After Disregarding His Own Safety…

Submitted By: Kathy (Kentwood, LA)

An adult neighbor was visiting my husband, his and our children were playing on a ‘zip line’ we just installed. He already has a broken back with screws holding his vertebrae together, he collects disability for this.

He fell off the zip line when he tried to show his child how to ride it, re-injuring his back. He reports that he broke his back in a different place. My husband did tell him there was a 200lb weight limit and “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”.

Is it his fault for being stupid enough to engage in this activity with a broken back, or can we be held liable for his disregard for his own safety?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Kathy,

The problem here is that when you install a product such as a zip line (which is known for extensive injuries), you can and will be held liable for the injuries that result from its use.

Do a simple Google search and you will find that zip lines are responsible for numerous injuries and broken bones. There is a case study on this very site about a child who fell and broke her arm in two places because of a similar apparatus. Even if you post signs acknowledging danger and address weight limits, you will still have a knuckle head or a child (who can’t read) who will try it out. If they are injured, they will automatically look to the owner of the property upon which the zip line is installed.

The best word of advice is to disassemble any toy or equipment that can cause injury and do some research. Once you have determined your comfort level of installing an inherently dangerous item, proceed accordingly. The short answer to your question is: “Yes, this man can sue your home owners policy for his damages.” Whether or not he wins, and how much is awarded is a question for the courts.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: January 28, 2011

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