The 2016 Rio Olympic Games are now here. The Olympics have always been a highly anticipated event. Each year the venues, athletes and overall production grow bigger and better. Those of us in Utah have fond memories of when the Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City in 2002.
Still, the Olympic games can be a dangerous event. Millions of tourists and athletes from all over the country all expose themselves to possible injury or wrongful death. If either of these should occur, when can you call a lawyer, and who is liable at the Olympic Games?
Liability at the Olympic Games differs depending on who suffers injury or wrongful death — athletes or bystanders.
Athletes come from all around the world. Some travel from Salt Lake City, while others fly into the games from Europe. Every Olympic athlete is required to sign Olympic participation agreements. These agreements include a waiver that releases Olympic organizers from liability should an athlete fall victim to wrongful death while participating in events.
The specifics of the waivers vary each Olympics and are subject to the host country. For instance, the waivers in the Salt Lake City Olympics were most likely very different than the waivers signed by athletes headed to Rio. Beyond the legal waivers, any lawyer knows that athletes compete under a doctrine called “primary assumption of risk.” Basically, it states that the athletes are knowingly placing themselves in a situation where they could be harmed.
For bystanders, liability is different than for athletes. The Olympic Games owe a certain duty of protection to those who come to view the events. If a Salt Lake City tourist is injured or killed due to negligence on the part of the Olympic organizers, his or her lawyer may have a case for injury or wrongful death.