Injured in Martial Arts Class? That Liability Waiver Might Not Apply

Children are taking the martial arts class

Liability waivers for martial arts accidents don’t always protect individuals or businesses from personal injury lawsuits in Nevada. There are instances where injured victims who have signed a waiver can still pursue claims against those who are responsible for causing accidents.

Liability Waivers

Liability waivers signed by participants of martial arts including karate, tae kwon do, judo, etc. state that individuals participating in the sport assume the risk for their engagement in the activity. Thus, if they suffer broken bones, sprains, strains, concussions, or other severe injuries, they release the business, instructors, and other participants from liability. Most waivers contain broad wording that could be interpreted to mean that participants are solely responsible for any injuries they incur. 

When Liability Waivers Don’t Apply

Liability waivers often have clever wording that implies that injured have no legal recourse. However, there are exceptions to every rule. There are two exceptions that are common when martial arts is involved. The first involves an instructor who engages in irresponsible activity that causes a personal injury to the participant. For instance, if the instructor ignores a participant’s requests to stop an activity, or if the instructor encourages the student to engage in maneuvers and actions that are clearly beyond their skill level, the instructor negligently places the participant at risk. 

The second involves individuals who deliberately attempt to cause harm to another participant; for instance, by engaging in behaviors whose sole purpose is to cause injury to another. This would include throwing “sucker” punches, throwing someone onto a surface that is likely to cause injury, or purposefully using a weapon. Depending on the circumstances, these actions may also result in criminal liability for those involved. The more combative the sport, the greater the likelihood of this type of injury. Thus, these types of events are more common in MMA, Muay Thai, and Tae Kwon Do than in Tai Chi and less rigorous forms of martial arts

Documenting Injuries

As with all personal injuries, documentation is the cornerstone of the case. Individuals should document their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any effects of the injury on their daily life and ability to work. Victims should also gather and record eyewitness statements. This information can be used to establish that the actions of the instructor or other participants fall outside the protections of a liability waiver.