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Signing Waiver May Mean Signing Life Away

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - You think you gotta be tough to participate in a Tough Mudder race? You should see Tough Mudder’s lawyers.

“Tough Mudder” events are endurance courses in which masochistic athletic types jump into freezing water, try to avoid electric shocks, pass through narrow pipes and mud, and other things on a 10-12 mile course that make sane people say: are you insane?

The agony and the thrill are obvious. The danger, very real. So it’s not shocking to learn that Tough Mudder LLC, the company that puts on the events, was sued last month by the mother of a participant who drowned.

As you can imagine, everyone who participates is required to be at least 18 and sign a waiver agreeing not to sue if they’re harmed in a way that’s entirely foreseeable. So? Do you really lose your right to sue if you sign a waiver? Probably.

Companies are required to take reasonable precautions to eliminate danger to the extent possible. But here, people participate not in spite of but BECAUSE of the thrill of danger. The Tough Mudder waiver says people are likely to have injuries that may include and I quote: permanent disabilities, stroke, spinal injuries, paralysis, heart attack, and even death. End quote. Sign me up!

Given that people know the risks and then agree to participate nonetheless, one very likely consequence, in addition to an inability to move or breathe, is an inability to sue.