Public Policy in B.C. and Zip Lines

Serving Greater Vancouver and Nearby Areas of British Columbia

In a decision released last week the Court of Appeals determined that allowing a motor vehicle owner or operator to waive liability for personal injuries is against public policy in B.C.

The Whistler zip line is a large attraction for B.C. tourists. People enjoy the thrill of zipping through the air, hundreds of feet above the ground.  However, before this thrilling experience most adventure companies will ask you to complete and sign a waiver. This waiver will say that you acknowledge the inherent danger of the activity and you release the company from liability in case an accident or injury occurs. But what happens when someone safely survives the zip line, but is injured while being transported back from the zip line site? This is exactly what happened to a teacher visiting B.C. from Australia who engaged in a Ziptrek Ecotours Inc. activity.

When riding the zip line operator’s bus back to Whistler Village, the bus flipped in an accident and Karen Niedermeyer suffered severe injuries. Initially, the B.C. Supreme Court issued a decision dismissing Niedermeyer’s lawsuit because she had signed the Release of Liability waiver before her excursion. However, the Court of Appeals overturned the earlier Supreme Court decision. In her majority opinion, Judge Garson explained how B.C. has compulsory universal insurance coverage for personal injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents. When a person signs a waiver to engage in an adventurous activity they should not be exempt from recovering damages for their injuries when an accident occurs outside of the dangerous activity. Allowing a motor vehicle operator to be free from liability when the injury occurred during the transportation to the activity and not during the activity is contrary to public policy in B.C. So motor vehicle operators of adventure tour companies are still on the hook for your safety.

If you or your loved one suffered severe injuries from a motor vehicle accident call or email the injury lawyers Stephens & Holman immediately. Even if you signed a contract releasing the responsible party from liability you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries. You can meet with us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. Our goal is to serve you!