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“Extreme” races prove dangerous for many, deadly for some

Mud, climbing walls, freezing water, forest paths, fire, electric shock; these words, for most, elicit feelings of discomfort. Many would not choose to be exposed to such things. However, when there is an element of competition involved, hundreds of thousands of people literally line up for the experience of a lifetime, and many end up regretting it in the end.

According to TIME, a new study indicates that the Tough Mudder obstacle-race event carries serious risk of injury for participants. The study was completed by Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network's director of emergency medicine research, and other coworkers. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, medical staff realized the need for intervention and widespread public information following a two-day Tough Mudder event was held in Pennsylvania. Nearly 40 participants were brought to the emergency room due to injuries sustained at the race.

The Tough Mudder race has grown immensely over the few years it has been in operation. This year, it is anticipated that 700,000 will participate in the extreme obstacle course race. Roughly 22,000 participated in the Pennsylvania event.

TIME reports that among those treated in the emergency room after the Pennsylvania event was an 18-year-old man who, during the final race obstacle, was shocked with electricity 13 times by live wires delivering up to 10,000 volts of power. According to the medical report, his heart muscle was so inflamed that it resembled one that had suffered a heart attack. Another participant, age 31, was diagnosed with a type of paralysis, suffered a possible seizure, and suffered two cerebral strokes. A 41-year-old participant was shocked in the head, was rendered unconscious and fell forward into a pile of dirt, resulting in facial and head injuries.

At a time when most participants were likely in need of medical assistance, after sustaining repeated electrical shocks, they were handed a glass of beer from a race sponsor. According to ABC News, a West Virginia participant was unable to secure the assistance he needed, after traversing a plank, situated 15 feet over icy water. After jumping in, it took nearly two minutes for a race employee to enter the water to search for him, as many others entered the water, unaware of the emergency situation. The participant died the following day. He was the first casualty from the Tough Mudder race.

I signed a waiver. Can I still recover for my injuries?

While many people understand that races of this type carry a serious level of danger, many question whether participants truly understand the “death waiver” they sign, which, according to ABC News, is viewed by many as a comical motivation technique. Similarly, numbers are written on participants' faces, and announcers joke that it is done so that they can “identify the bodies.”

Liability waivers, also called “exculpatory releases” are traditionally upheld by Pennsylvania law if the following conditions apply:

  • The clause must not contravene public policy.
  • The contract must be between persons relating entirely to their own private affairs.
  • Each party must be a free bargaining agent to the agreement so that the contract is not one of adhesion.

While many waivers are upheld, waivers may be refused enforcement where the injury sued upon was caused by willful, wanton or grossly negligent conduct by the operator of the activity.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured due to negligent conduct from a recreational activity, or another form of negligence, it is essential that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with your case.

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