Cycling Accidents and Waivers

Eastern Canada is known for its many beautiful biking trails and cyclists from near and far travel to Ottawa to enjoy the yearly cycling events. Enthusiasts have many different reasons for loving this activity. The top reasons often cited by cyclists include: the health benefits of cycling, its benefits as a stress releaser, cycling is pro-environment, it’s an economical activity and for some, cycling appeals to their competitive nature.

Cycling is both a physical and public activity. As such, cycling safety is of the utmost importance not just for cyclists but for all road users. Some common universal safety tips for cyclists include always wearing a helmet, wearing reflective clothing, having the appropriate bike lights between dusk and dawn, and adhering to traffic regulations.

Unfortunately tragedy can strike at any time and can potentially be life changing for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. In addition to the trauma and injury from their accident, cyclists who are injured in an organized recreational event may be burdened with additional stress about their legal rights, when they were required to sign a liability waiver prior to the activity to absolve the organisers of any liability in their injuries.  The main purpose of a waiver is to acknowledge inherent dangers of the activity and allow for the voluntary release from liability. Anyone injured in a cycling accident is well advised to consult with a personal injury lawyer even if they signed a waiver, as the waiver may not apply for various reasons.

Due to the vulnerability of cyclists when they are struck by a vehicle or spin out, cycling accidents often result in serious or catastrophic injuries to the rider. Common injuries include concussion, leg and arm fractures, back and spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.  When fatalities result from cycling accidents, the most common cause is a head injury resulting in traumatic brain injury.  

Many people choose not to thoroughly read waivers they sign before participating in activities, especially when these events are associated with entertainment, charity or philanthropy. The last thing that is often on the mind of a participant is the potential dangers that may be possible. This is particularly true when the event involves common and seemingly harmless activities such as running, cycling or listening to live entertainment.  Regardless, many organized events and recreational activities now require the signing or acceptance of a waiver and refusal to sign precludes participation in these activities. The failure to read a waiver is unfortunately not a valid defence against the application of the waiver.

Can a waiver be challenged? At Burn Tucker Lachaîne, we have encountered cases where waivers were successfully challenged. These cases are complex but are winnable depending on the unique circumstances of the accident and the wording of the waiver.

Being seriously hurt in a sponsored cycling event should not be perceived as a freak accident or treated as an isolated event. In our experience, cycling accidents resulting in serious injury inevitably have a significant impact on the life of the accident victim and their families.  Our compassionate team of personal injury lawyers strive to lessen the financial and legal burden for injured persons, by developing a supportive and open relationship with our clients.  At Burn Tucker Lachaîne, we are dedicated to getting you compensation for the losses that resulted from your injuries, which may include loss of income, medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, and compensation for your pain and suffering, depending on the severity of your accident.

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident resulting from negligence, call Burn Tucker Lachaîne in Ottawa. We cater to both English and French speaking clients in Ottawa and the surrounding communities and can offer you a free initial consultation to advise you on your options for moving forward after a personal injury.


By Dani Grandmaitre of Burn Tucker Lachaîne LLP Personal Injury Lawyers on November 27, 2015
Tags: Bicycle Accidents, Head Injury, Negligence, Personal Injury