You went mountain biking with a local company. It was your first time going. Due to the dangerous nature of mountain biking, they had you -- and everyone in your group -- sign an injury waiver first.

Unfortunately, after about an hour on the trails, you crashed. You flew off the bike, struck a tree, and were seriously injured. A medical helicopter had to be called and you were airlifted out. In the face of all of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, you're wondering if you can sue the company. Is it still possible, or did the injury waiver mean you can no longer sue?

Negligence and Intent

It depends. Generally speaking, when you sign an injury waiver, it means you know that the activity is dangerous, that all risks can't be avoided, and that you're fine with those risks. If you're then injured in a typical fashion -- maybe you just went too fast and lost control of the bike -- you can't sue. You knew that crashing was a risk when you signed up.

However, waivers don't typically protect companies when they have engaged in intentional misconduct or when they're grossly negligent. For instance, maybe one of the guides thought it would be funny to "haze" the new rider by cutting you off, causing the accident, or perhaps the company did not do any maintenance on the bikes and obvious mechanical problems that should have been corrected caused the crash. You signed up for the inherent risks of riding a mountain bike, but you still expected a certain level of professionalism from the company.

Financial Compensation

Don't assume that you can never seek compensation just because you signed a waiver. Always be sure that you know your legal rights. Depending on the specifics of the accident and the injury, you may still be entitled to that compensation.