Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Seattle Man Killed in Skydiving Accident

Posted Friday, April 23, 2021 by Chris Thayer

A 27-year-old man from Seattle tragically died earlier this week in a skydiving accident while jumping with Kapowsin Air Sports in Shelton. According to local police, the man jumped from the plane and opened his parachute without incident. He then began performing stunts with his parachute. Police stated that the man performed a stunt too close to the ground, causing his entire body to hit the ground with great force. He is believed to have died on impact. The FAA is currently investigating the crash. However, their investigation is limited to the packing of the primary and reserve parachutes, and the flight rules for the captain and crew on the plane.

*Liability for Skydiving Accidents * If you have been skydiving or participated in anything remotely risky, you have almost certainly been asked to sign a liability waiver. These waivers can be broad, intimidating, and full of legalese, but you probably grasped that you were signing away your right to sue if something went wrong. Well, not exactly. Just because you signed a liability waiver does not mean you are out of options. You are legally entitled to a reasonable duty of care regardless of any waiver you sign. If the skydiving company breaches their duty of care by acting in a way that is grossly negligent, it is illegal. As you cannot contract to accept illegal behavior (the same way you cannot legally give someone permission to shoot you) a waiver does nothing to insulate a skydiving company from their own gross negligence.

In the case above, it is unclear whether negligence may have been at play. While it seems like there was not an issue with the diver’s parachute or equipment, it is unclear whether he was given proper training prior to jumping. Skydiving companies can be found grossly negligent if they fail to provide reasonable guidance and training. However, if he was an experienced skydiver who had jumped with them before, it is unlikely that they would be found responsible for this outcome.

*Overcoming Liability Waivers * As noted above, it is possible to overcome liability waivers when the company has been grossly negligent or otherwise failed to meet the reasonable standard of care owed to their patrons. In another case, a man died when his parachute failed to open. Although the man was an experienced skydiver, he had just had his parachute packed by the skydiving facility prior to jumping. The court found that the skydiver was allowed to rely on the professional expertise of the skydiving facility, and was not required to conduct an independent check of the parachute pack. Further, the court found that by incorrectly packing and knotting the parachute, the facility had failed to meet their reasonable duty of care to the skydiver. While the facility had a liability waiver that they thought was iron-clad (so much so that they did not even purchase liability insurance), the court found that the waiver did not protect them from the consequences of their illegal negligence. The facility was bankrupted by the proceedings.

*Talk to an Attorney * If you have been injured in a Seattle accident due to another’s negligence, you do not have to bear the burden alone. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Pivotal Law are here to help. Call today and schedule a consultation.