When the risk of injury is obvious

Category: Personal Injury

On 11 January 2014 Emma Maylin, a 27 year old woman, went to use a bouldering wall at an indoor rock climbing centre.

The bouldering wall was considered somewhat more dangerous than the other rock climbing because, although it was lower, there were no ropes to break the fall of a climber who lost her grip.  Emma was a complete novice and was not given any safety briefing or formal instruction but, having watched her friend who was more experienced climb up the wall, Emma had a go herself.  Unfortunately, however, her right foot slipped off the block and she fell, sustaining a fracture to her spine.

Emma argued through her lawyers that the climbing centre were negligent in that they failed to draw her attention to the risks involved.  She complained that the centre had not followed industry practice in that novice boulderers should receive a safety induction or be supervised by a competent person. She pointed out that, since her accident, the climbing centre had changed their procedures so that they did now require novice boulderers to have a safety induction.

The Judge decided that the risk of falling from the bouldering wall was plainly obvious and it was also obvious that, although there was safety matting, this would not absolutely avoid the risk of serious injury if she fell awkwardly.  Relying on a previous Court of Appeal decision, the Judge found that there was no duty on the climbing centre to supervise or train or warn Emma of the obvious risks.

The Judge went on to say that even if he was wrong, the centre had actually done enough to warn her of the risks, as she had signed a declaration before using the equipment and there were signs indicating that serious injury could occur by falling off.

This case is a very clear example of how we do not live in a society where “health and safety has gone mad” nor indeed do we have a “compensation culture” in this country.

The general rule remains that, notwithstanding how seriously you are injured, you are not going to receive compensation unless you can show some sort of blame or fault on the part of the person you are suing.