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Maryland man dies running an obstacle course

An injury from an organized event on another's property means that the property owner may be liable for the injuries. But there are some activities that the law considers to be inherently dangerous or that pose such a high risk of injury that a person engaging in that activity must take responsibility by signing a waiver that requires him or her to assume responsibility for any injury or death that might occur. Nonetheless, engaging in dangerous activity or signing a waiver does not always mean that a property owner cannot be found liable for an accident under premises liability law. For example. if the owner is found to negligently maintain their property, he or she may still be liable for any accidents that occur on the property.

A Maryland man was pronounced dead at a hospital last weekend after sustaining an accident while participating in an obstacle course race in West Virginia. The obstacle race, called Tough Mudder, is a 10- to 12-mile race that distinguishes itself by including obstacles such as live electrical wires, mud pits, and a climb up a muddy hill while being sprayed from both sides with high-pressure water hoses. The man died after he confronted a peculiar obstacle called "Walk the Plank", in which participants jump into a deep pool of muddy water 15 feet below a wooden platform. He jumped in, but did not resurface. The man was taken out of the water by a staff diver and emergency technicians resuscitated him so that his heart was beating and he was breathing, but his brain had been "compromised" because of the length of time during which he was submerged.

The company that organizes the races, which take place at various locations around the world, says the obstacles that runners encounter are similar to those used by the British military in training its special forces. Race participants must sign a waiver acknowledging their awareness of "inherent risks" in the course that can cause permanent disability or death. The company spokeswoman would not comment on whether the event organizers would discontinue or modify the Walk the Plank obstacle and said future races would go on as planned.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Ellicott City man dies after accident on Tough Mudder obstacle course," April 23, 2013

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