Some pranks, even pranks for entertainment shows, can cause serious injuries. One case in point involved a “Jet Ski Tug of War,” stunt for the movie series Jackass. An air traffic controller has filed a lawsuit against several cast members, alleging that their actions caused him to have a near-fatal head injury. The defendants argue that the plaintiff was the person who was careless.
According to Law and Crime, the case is scheduled for trial on March 7, 2023. The plaintiff asserts that he was injured in 2018 in Puerto Rico when he was asked by Steve-O and Chris Pontius, stars of the Jackass series, to use his jet ski for a production. During the stunt, the two performers rode on separate jet skis, tied together by a bungee cord. The cord snapped, striking the plaintiff, Vicéns-Segura, in the head. The plaintiff was in the water between the two jet skis at the time he was struck. The incident can be viewed on YouTube.
Per Law and Crime, Vicéns-Segura said the injury changed his life. He said he recalled saying, “Take the pressure out of my head. You need to take the pressure out of my head.” Further:
He said he suffered brain bleeding, a blood clot in his brain, a C5/C6 herniated disk, and damaged nerves from his neck to his arms, which especially caused trouble using his right hand in the beginning. He said he required plastic surgery to his ear. Doctors performed a craniotomy on him to get the blood out.
He was also prescribed 1,000 milligrams of the anti-convulsive Keppra, but he needed to be taken off that medication because of the disturbing thoughts the meds created. The plaintiff asserts that speaking and thinking are now very difficult and are impacting his ability to earn a living.
The defendants say that in the practice sessions, there wasn’t any incident – just the one that was filmed. They claim that Vicéns-Segura voluntarily participated in the stunt even though he wasn’t asked to assist. The defendants assert that the plaintiff assumed the risk “even after the production crew had asked everybody to clear the area for the filming of the scene.”
How do liability waivers work?
It’s not clear from the report of the lawsuit whether the defendants or their production company required that the plaintiff sign a liability waiver. Many businesses such as production companies try to protect themselves from personal injury lawsuits by requiring that participants waive the right to file a lawsuit if they are injured during their participation in any business-sponsored activity.
Common examples of liability waivers are waivers for events that are inherently dangerous. For example, people who attend sporting events or participate in recreational activities may be asked to sign a liability waiver in the event they are struck by a foul ball, an errant pass, a flying golf ball, or other dangers.
Waiver liability contracts, however, are often challenged by personal injury attorneys. The language should be clear and easy to decipher. Courts generally frown on waiver provisions that are hidden, ambiguous, or hard to understand. Most liability waivers:
- Generally only cover the inherent risks. Generally, waiver provisions don’t protect businesses from intentional wrongs for acts of gross negligence.
- Should clearly indicate that the participant assumes the risks of any accidents or injuries occurring through the use of the product or services. Businesses generally cannot assert that an accident victim assumed a risk if the liability waiver fails to mention any assumption of risk by the user.
- Should clearly state that the business is not responsible for any harmful events. The user must know that if they are injured, they will not be able to file a personal injury claim against the business.
- Should state that the business’ liability insurance policy does not cover any damages that a user suffers if they are injured while participating in activities at the business location.
Liability waiver provisions normally also include indemnification provisions and choice-of-law clauses.
What are the consequences of a traumatic brain injury?
Vicéns-Segura sustained a traumatic brain injury in his accident. These types of injuries are typically permanent and disabling. Johns Hopkins Medicine, a prestigious university hospital in Maryland, states that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs due to a sudden, external physical assault on the brain. The damage can be confined to one part of the brain (focal) or affect more than one brain area (diffuse). TBIs include mild concussions and more severe injuries that can result in coma or death.
Many victims suffer a primary brain injury and a secondary brain injury. A primary TBI is the injury that occurs at the point of impact. A secondary TBI includes all the changes in the brain (chemical, tissue, blood vessel, and cellular) that occur in the hours or days after the initial impact. These changes can further damage the brain.
Severe TBIs often have many of the following consequences which may result in a permanent disability and often require a lifetime of medical care:
- Cognitive disorders. These include coma, a shortened attention span, confusion, difficulty solving problems, memory difficulties, loss of a sense of space and time, and a lack of awareness of self and others.
- Motor disorders. These include paralysis, spasticity, lack of balance, reduced endurance, tremors, difficulty swallowing, and other physical problems.
- Sensory and perceptual disorders. These disorders include changes in touch, taste, vision, hearing, and smell; not knowing where your limbs are in relation to your body, changes in body parts sensation, double vision, and other problems.
- Communication disorders. These difficulties include problems with speech, talking, reading, writing, brushing one’s teeth, forming sentences, and other disorders.
- Functional disorders. Severe TBI victims may have difficulty eating, bathing, dressing, paying bills, or driving a car.
- Social disorders. These disorders include difficulty making and keeping friends, understanding the nuances of social interaction, and other interpersonal relationship difficulties.
- Regulatory disorders. These include tiredness, headaches, loss of bladder and bowel control, dizziness, and other disorders.
- Personality disorders. TBI victims may experience apathy, anxiety, irritability, depression, aggression, and other problems.
A severe traumatic brain injury can also cause traumatic epilepsy.
At Philbrook Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers understand how life-changing any type of traumatic brain injury is. Victims with a severe TBI often have long-term physical, emotional, and cognitive difficulties. Many victims live with constant pain. Many can never work again. Our Vancouver, WA and Battle Ground, WA trial lawyers demand compensation for all your economic and personal damages. To schedule an appointment, call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.