Brett Gibson is both an attorney and active kiteboarder. He has organized the Mid-Atlantic Kiteboarding Association or M-A-K-A. M-A-K-A is intended to represent kiteboarders in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina. He recently wrote an interesting and timely article titled "ANATOMY OF A KITESUIT", the first of its kind to my knowledge that talks about kiteboarding and liability issues. This article appeared in the recent issue of Kiteboarding Magazine (September 2, 2002) and has been reproduced below with Brett Gibson's permission.
As kiteboarding enters into the mainstream with many new participants, liability issues will continue to grow in significance. This article presents many serious considerations for both kiteboarding participants and for those in the industry. It is said that to be "forewarned is to be forearmed", so taking stock of potential consequences of our actions and our "level of care" is appropriate. The focus of this article is on US law however parallels may exist in other legal systems around the World. Questions and comments may be sent to Brett Gibson at: BigEugene@aol.com
On a related topic, it has been suggested that AKA insurance kiteboarder coverage may be voided if an accident claim results from a gross negligent act. If failure to use a kite depowering leash results in a claim this may constitute one type of gross negligent act and could result in lost insurance coverage. It is obvious that reasonable care to protect bystanders must be employed in this sport and that serious pesonal, financial and access consequences may result from our failure to do so.
ANATOMY OF A KITESUIT
By Brett Gibson
Kiteboarding can be dangerous. (DuhÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..) With the recent proliferation the sport has seen, injuries, bans and inexperienced riders are on the rise. The growth of kiteboarding is likely to skyrocket for years to come. The extreme nature of the sport will inevitably lead to significant national and international publicity; both for better and for worse. What follows is an outline and discussion of how bad judgment and poor riding decisions could wreak havoc on riders, dealers and manufacturers in the future.
In order to be successful in a traditional negligence claim, four elements must be satisfied: Duty of Care, Breach of that Duty, Causation, and Damages.
DUTY OF CARE
There is no question that a kiteboarder owes a duty of care. But what, exactly, does that mean? Any time you are out in public you owe a duty of care. You owe a duty of care when you walk down the street not to injure other pedestrians. You owe a duty of care when you operate a car, a motorcycle or a wave runner. The operation of a large traction kite is no different. If, due to negligence or recklessness, either causes damage to a bystander, the rider will likely be held accountable.
This duty of care extends to all foreseeable victims within the Ã¢â‚¬Å“zone of danger.Ã¢â‚¬