/ NEWS: Court Rules Against Climbing Wall In Injury Claim
Ms Louise Pinchbeck jumped approximately 4-5ft from the bouldering wall and sustained her injury when she...
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=66978
This is utter madness. Are people on longer responsible for their own actions?
I agree! One of the first things I learnt was that this kind of injury can very easily happen and that is why you downclimb to a safe distance.
Unless the mats were worn out, holey or something like that, I don't think she should have done this. I have friends who have dislocated things etc and they know its either their own fault or just one of those things....
I completely agree. This country has gone mad.
Utterly absurd. I wrecked my knee after landing awkwardly at a wall and three years on and I still can't run. Never ever thought the blame to be with anyone other than myself. Shit happens, but the thing with being a thinking adult with a mediocre amount of common sense is that I realise that just because it happened to you, dosen't mean that you aren't to blame.
Have a mind to write to this woman to remind her of that. Daft mare.
At no point would i think of taking the wall to court, falling off is part of climbing !!. I think it is very selfish to take a wall to court over something that was nothing to do with them, as it only bumps up the prices for everyone else.
If she had fallen off at Brimham would she be taking the National Trust to court ?
This is actually the walls fault in a lot of ways. The reason is that she wasn't a climber this happened on some kind of corporate thing. At these kind of events providing a safe enviroment is pretty much expected and crash pads will lull you into a false sense of security. Non climbers are just going to see something soft and not realise that you can still hurt yourself. Would think it was madness if a climber did this but can see why a corporate client would expect to have their hand held for the entire time.
"A lawyer writes..." on the other thread made some pertinent comments- worth a read
PS "A lawyer writes..." is Sloper AICMFP??
> Unfortunately it is, I've seen it happen from about 3 feet. In that case the climber's foot hit a hold sticking out from the wall which turned their ankle to a vulnerable angle just before they landed. Mats reduce the impact but once they are compressed, your remaining kinetic energy (you won't have lost much) is fully available to injure you.
I popped my ankle slipping of a slab at Stanage last weekend, damaging a tendon.
I wonder if I can sue the National Park Authority, or God.
Billy Connelly already tried sueing God.... :P
Unfortunately, due to personal experience I can confirm that it's possible to drop 2 feet onto a thick bouldering mat and dislocate your ankle and ruin all your tendons (this at another London wall). I also know personally another person who has suffered a similar injury (at a different wall). If you land badly you land badly, and that's that.
While I sympathise with Ms Pinchbeck's injury, I am sad that she has felt the need to sue.
> This is actually the walls fault in a lot of ways.
Feel free to give us the benefit of your expertise.
Unfortunatly there are so many slimey lawyers about who will find ways to distaught facts, any words in any disclaimer will be worthless, they will find that the disclaimer in some way was not worded correctly and anything that was on it had a different meaning to what you thought it should mean.
I can hear it now, Craggy Island must hold some responsibility for their customers, does that mean if we climb outside wherever we climb, the land owners have to hold some responsibily, no matter what we do.
These so called pillars of society, the judge and the lawyers should be pulled to account, and so should Ms Louise Pinchbeck.
Not unless you pay them any money. Then they would have a duty of care.
The idiots are winning
Does this mean that you think lawyers shouldn't represent those accussed of murder, theft or generally any crime whatsoever
> This is actually the walls fault in a lot of ways. The reason is that she wasn't a climber this happened on some kind of corporate thing. At these kind of events providing a safe enviroment is pretty much expected and crash pads will lull you into a false sense of security. Non climbers are just going to see something soft and not realise that you can still hurt yourself. Would think it was madness if a climber did this but can see why a corporate client would expect to have their hand held for the entire time.
I hadn't realised that she wasn't a climber. This puts a different light on the incident. If the wall was running the corporate event, then I'd agree they have a responsibility to brief clients first, so it does appear that they should be held responsible to a degree,
It appears that the judge (who will have listened to all the evidence) has made a reasonable judgement here.
Even if you arent a "climber" you are an idiot if you dont realise that falling off a wall from (the staggeringly pathetic) height of 5 feet, could, possibly, maybe, result in some sort of injury.
I would say they would still have had to sign the disclaimer re injury, but Im guessing that the issue is that that document will have referred to what the wall would do, and they didnt live up to their end of the bargain.
Even so, it is UTTERLY pathetic.
If it's such a "staggeringly pathetic" height, then maybe that's why she didn't automatically think it could lead to an injury?
> Even if you arent a "climber" you are an idiot if you dont realise that falling off a wall from (the staggeringly pathetic) height of 5 feet, could, possibly, maybe, result in some sort of injury.
I can't agree with you. A newbie sees the crash mats and I'd say it's a perfectly reasonable assumption for an inexperienced person to assume they will adequately cushion her jump - after all what are they there for? It seems she said as much in her evidence. A newbie have absolutely no idea of their limitations
Yes, but you are a climber, and aware of the risks. A newbie having no idea whatsoever should be able to expect a duty of care from the climbing wall in the form of an adequate briefing. The lack of a briefing would just re-inforce her erroneous false sense of security regarding the matts
If you were riding a roller coaster at a theme park and the operator had failed to strap you in properly, but you believed you were safe, so that you fell out and suffered a serious injury can you honestly say hand on heart that you wouldn't sue them for negligence?
> Yes, but you are a climber, and aware of the risks. A newbie having no idea whatsoever should be able to expect a duty of care from the climbing wall in the form of an adequate briefing. The lack of a briefing would just re-inforce her erroneous false sense of security regarding the matts
I was referring to myself as a beginner, who climbed indoors before outdoors
> If you were riding a roller coaster at a theme park and the operator had failed to strap you in properly, but you believed you were safe, so that you fell out and suffered a serious injury can you honestly say hand on heart that you wouldn't sue them for negligence?
That is not the same thing.
> Yes, but you are a climber, and aware of the risks. A newbie having no idea whatsoever should be able to expect a duty of care from the climbing wall in the form of an adequate briefing. The lack of a briefing would just re-inforce her erroneous false sense of security regarding the matts
I think there is some dispute as to whether or not she received the briefing.
> I think there is some dispute as to whether or not she received the briefing.
Maybe, but the judge is the one who heard all the evidence before reaching his judgement.
fell at my local wall 12m, broke wrist, ribs, internal bleeding etc. Didn't even consider suing or trying to claim anything. Climbing is a risk sport. That is why many people do it. However I don't know full story.
Try and get the QC to explain why he came to the decision, he won't tell you unless your a fellow lawyer and he knows you.
Unfortunately they live on a different planet than you and I, the woman involved in all this won't explain why she took this action, she obviously wants to take the money and has no interest in keeping the great facilities like Craggy Island alive.
She had no intention of taking any of the blame even though it was her own actions that caused her injury.
Perhaps she will give the cash to a charity, why do't you ask her.........
His Hon Judge Curran QC writes books on Personal Injury Pleadings, no win, no fee.
Now, that makes you wonder what the hell is going on here.
> Try and get the QC to explain why he came to the decision, he won't tell you unless your a fellow lawyer and he knows you.
QC is as far as I am aware just some kind of super lawyer so wouldn't have delivered the verdict. Are you confusing QC and Judge.
What level of court was this case decided at? Has it created a legal precedent?
Every decision sets a precedent, but it carries more weight the higher up the chain it is.
This was only high court I believe, so above that you have court of appeal and house of lords ( or maybe supreme court, things have changed since I studied). So it would be great if this was overturned on appeal, but I trust our learned friends judgement on the other thread that an appeal would be foolhardy
More worrying than the legal precedent, which I read as being quite narrow, is the effect it will have on attitudes out of court - more people likely to make a dubious claim, insurers more likely to settle.
If the warnings and disclaimers are no defence with a novice, are they a defence with anyone ?
HOW stupid do you need to be to realise that climbing could involve possible injury...
Why is it these stuck up posh bloody insurance workers, have to ruin someones business, just because they are so intellegent in one area makes them so bloody stupid in every day life,
This is a war of stupidity that needs to be battled against, The climbing community needs to stick together on this and protect the wall from these oportunistic fools...
If the Wall is affiliated to the BMC, then they should be looking to work together to stop this from happening.......
>His Hon Judge Curran QC writes books on Personal Injury Pleadings, no win, no fee.
I doubt this very much; he may write books on personal injury pleadings but he's most unlkely to write about no-won no-fee agreements; barristers never know the first thing about these.
I jumped off the Foundry bouldering wall about 2 1/2 years ago and rolled my ankle; I am still having a lot of trouble with it. I didn't say anything at the time because like Craggy the Foundry is perfectly upfront about the risks.
I've now decided that I've missed out, can I have some compensation? As I'm not a greedy person I'll take a nice mug of tea and a chalk ball please.
I'd really love to hear the justification for the claimed quantity of compensation. I can't see how it could be justified by loss of earnings or some sort of "emotional trauma".
> That is not the same thing.
Are there not similarities? How much do you know about roller coaster safety?
Ms Pinchbeck, was at the climbing centre with colleagues from Halifax/HBOS while taking part in an exercise "designed to improve their effectiveness as a team within the bank".
May I suggest to Halifax/HBOS executives that for your staff to improve their effectiveness they need to be sat at the 2/3 of closed cashier windows and stop stealing from and lying to your customers rather than fannying about at climbing walls.
As Halifax/HBOS is publicly owned, it was technically us that paid for her session at wall which adds insult to injury <literally>
These are the pirates that seem to have took the case:
So, the wall was 12 feet high and everything I've read so far says Ms Pinchbeck jumped from 4 or 5 feet. The ambulance chasers have it on thier own front page that "she decided to jump the last four or five feet" So by implication the last 4 or 5 feet of a 12 foot wall means she jumped 7 to 8 feet. Funny how that doesn't match anyone elses report.
I have just sent this to them from their 'contact us' page:
I am most concerned about your report of the injury to Ms Louise Pinchbeck at Craggy Island at Guildford. Your website news page clearly states that the wall is 12 feet high and Ms Pinchbeck "decided to jump the last four or five feet". Jumping the last 4 or 5 feet from a 12 foot wall means that Ms Pinchbeck would have jumped from 7 or 8 feet - that is what you are reporting by implication.
Would you care to therefore explain why every other media outlet reporting this story have stated that Ms Pinchbeck jumped FROM 4 or 5 feet NOT as you imply 7 or 8 feet?
In your own business 'promises' statement you give "great service and trustworthiness" however I and no doubt anyone else reading your news story may find that your company anything but trustworthy if you are incapable of being able to clarify details. No doubt you want sensationalism and jumping from the last 4 or 5 feet from a wall that is 12 feet high gives this but to be reported correctly it should read "jumped the last 4 or 5 feet while climbing DOWN a 12 foot wall"
I trust you either explain why every media outlet is reporting the details incorrectly OR you will make amendments to your news story.
Their website says:
"...as Ms Pinchbeck descended the wall she decided to jump the last four or five feet, as her arms were becoming tired."
This seems quite clear to me, she fell 4 or 5 feet.
AH-Haa! It never said that an hour ago! Just shows how quickly they can change stuff if they choose to eh :-D Good result from a quick rant!
In response to some of the comments earlier, a judge can still be styled 'QC', even though this title is bestowed on top barristers. This judge is a circuit judge (one level below full High Court judge) and it is common for judges of this rank to retain their 'QC' (which they would have earned before they quit being top barristers to become judges).
It is not uncommon for judges have written books about the field of law they have practiced in. After all, they probably wouldn't have been made judges if they weren't highly respected experts on the law.
As to the judgment itself, this will no doubt be published for the public in due course (if it hasn't been already). Google shows that the reference is Pinchbeck v Craggy Island Ltd  All ER (D) 121 (Mar). It might be better to wait to see the full reasons for the judgment before starting to point the finger.
One other thing about disclaimers - you can not limit liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence, regardless of the wording. This makes it very hard for climbing walls to escape from this kind of claim, which is deeply worrying as insurance costs are only likely to increase following this case.
Or perhaps they just won't offer bouldering to these groups?
Recognising the not-always-obvious dangers (to a non-climber), when a wall I climb at regularly offered free taster sessions, they blocked the entrance to the bouldering room with a sign pointing out it was for registered climbers only, and staff appeared to be keeping an eye on it.
Now there's a novel idea.
As I said on the deleted thread, I think it makes a big difference that the injured party wasn't an informed, active customer of the wall. She was attending a training course organised by her employers and could, quite reasonably, have assumed that it must be safe, in the way that a fairground ride or a bouncy castle is safe.
That fact that she was an unfit, overweight (certainly by the standards of most of the usual clientele), middle-aged woman unused to bailing out onto bouldering mats should have been taken into account by someone. Perhaps it was. Perhaps when the judgment publishes we'll find out.
Although as others have said, since this is usually included in the entry form thingy which she signed, it does make you wonder what the point of signing a thing saying "I have been made aware of X" is if it doesn't stand up in court to demonstrate that you've been made aware of X.
And out of interest, does anyone here actually avoid falling off bouldering walls from more than four feet up?
Do you really have to be an experienced climber to judge whether falling onto a mat, the consistency of which you know because you've just been standing on it, could potentially hurt if you were to fall awkwardly?
I would say that being an informed and active human, with experience in physical existence, should cover this.
Well said. Many of the posts above express such ignorant speculative opinions or insults to the victim and members of the legal profession that frankly they are an embarrassment to the climbing community.
In March 2008, the claimant visited an indoor climbing centre, owned and run by the defendant company. The claimant attended, with a number of colleagues, as part of a team building exercise organised by their employer. The claimant did not have any prior rock climbing experience. She and her colleagues completed a two hour session, overseen by two instructors employed by the defendant. For most of the day the claimant was climbing on a high wall with a safety harness. Upon reaching the top of the wall, she would be lowered down by the harness rather than climbing down. For approximately the last ten minutes of the session, the claimant and her colleagues were allowed to use a lower wall. That wall was around 4 metres high and unlike the high wall, had no safety harnesses but instead the floor was covered with crash matting over twelve inches thick. Only one of the instructors was supervising the low wall. On one occasion, the claimant jumped down from the wall, turning in the air as she did so. She landed awkwardly and badly injured her ankle. Whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive, she accepted that she had apologised for the inconvenience that was being caused. The claimant brought a claim for damages for the injury to her ankle. The instant hearing was concerned with liability only.
The claimant's case was that no instruction was given for the use of the low wall other than that only two people could be on the wall at the same time. The defendant's case was that a formal safety briefing was given before anyone began to use the low wall and that that briefing had informed the claimant and her colleagues that they should climb down the wall rather than jumping. The claimant maintained that she had jumped down on a number of occasions previously and had not been told that she should climb down. The defendant's case was that the claimant had admitted that she had been told not to jump down but have chosen to do so anyway. The principal issues that fell to be determined were: (i) whether the claimant had been told not to jump down from the low wall; (ii) whether a duty of care was owed to the claimant by the defendant; (iii) whether the defendant had been in breach of that duty of care: (iv) whether the defendant could rely on the defence of volenti non fit injuria (volenti); and (v) whether the claimant had contributed to her injury, and, if so, to what extent.
The court ruled:
In the instant case, on the balance of probabilities, no words were said to the claimant or her colleagues that clearly explained there to be a prohibition on jumping down from the low wall. In respect of (ii), the defendant had assumed responsibility for the claimant by providing instructors. In respect of (iii), the defendant had known that the claimant had, to that point, only climbed upwards that day and had therefore known, or ought to have known that she was at a disadvantage on the low wall. By not instructing her not to jump down from the wall, the defendant had failed to discharge its duty of care to the claimant. In respect of (iv), as the risk of injury could and should have been avoided by proper instruction, volenti did not apply. In respect of (v), the claimant could have climbed down or asked for assistance but she had not done so. She had chosen to jump and to turn as she did so. The claimant had been contributorily negligent and the appropriate proportion was 33%.
Judgment on liability would be entered in favour of the claimant, subject to a finding that of 33% contributory negligence.
Thanks. Not at all sure about:
"In respect of (iv), as the risk of injury could and should have been avoided by proper instruction, volenti did not apply."
Seems to imply the risk could have been prevented when at best it could have been mitigated.
"In the instant case, on the balance of probabilities, no words were said to the claimant or her colleagues that clearly explained there to be a prohibition on jumping down from the low wall."
That's quite concerning, as it seems to suggest that jumping from a bouldering wall should be *banned* rather than just discouraged.
> Do you really have to be an experienced climber to judge whether falling onto a mat, the consistency of which you know because you've just been standing on it, could potentially hurt if you were to fall awkwardly?
Look, I don't necessarily agree with her actions, but this woman (who had no previous experience of climbing) had just spent two hours getting used to the idea that, no matter what her common sense told her, she could just let go from the top of the wall and the gear would protect her. Then, when she's tired, excited and has been encouraged to push the limits of what she is comfortable doing, she's put on the bouldering wall.
I know you'll find this difficult to believe, but she may not have jumped off anything higher a kerbstone for thirty years. She has no idea that there is a right way to land on a bouldering mat, she has no useful joint reflexes, no muscle tone and may have osteoporosis for all we know.
And I would say that, in these circumstances, she might have been neither informed nor active.
We are talking about how to deal with a first time middle aged climber on a bouldering wall who has just been top-roping for the first time. I suspect many here understimate the extra risks attached to some nervous people in this group. Its all too easy for them to climb up (like they have just been doing on a top-rope) then get scared trying to climb down, then tense up with fear such that they massively increase the risk attached to landing on the mats (including reaching out as they fall etc). I think bouldering is incredibly risky in this scenario (in terms of sprains) and needs very careful supervision.
Reading that quickly, I think the key point is that the Judge didn't believe (on the balance of probability) that the instructors clearly told her not to jump off but to downclimb. There may be a bit of a wordgame going on here - perhaps they told her to downclimb ideally but didn't actually say "don't jump off". Or perhaps there was indeed some misremembering by one party as to what precisely was said.
As to impact on climbing walls (other than insurance), I suppose there are some clear messages about how to deal with groups of novices. Also, a point I made on another recent'ish thread re walls, it isn't so much the disclaimer words which are used (or how they test your knowledge of knots etc) but what they actually do in practice. If they hold themselves out to instruct or to check certain things, then the wall needs to do it.
The fact is that something that is safe for some people is demonstrably not safe for other people. Alf Bridge (and possibly Johnny Dawes) might have been able to jump off the top of Black Slab in comparative safety. It doesn't mean it would be sensible for me to do it.
I'm not so sure this will be such a problem for bouldering walls. It's just a case of briefing new members properly and obtaining an informed waiver absolving the wall from the foreseeable risks.
This is a good point - perhaps if a form had been signed with simple instructions (one of which being "do not jump off the bouldering wall"), the court may well have found against her.
It is in a way fortunate she hadn't been signed in by another climber instead. That might have been awkward in terms of what the court might feel the wall's duty would be.
I take your point that in the circumstances, this woman's case may not be totally unreasonable - and I hope you're right, because otherwise it's pretty depressing.
I think that unless she was actively encouraged to jump off or told that it was safe to do so, she should have been responsible for judging that herself. I have no experience of pole vaulting, but I don't need someone to tell me that if I fluff it, it might hurt.
> This is a good point - perhaps if a form had been signed with simple instructions (one of which being "do not jump off the bouldering wall"), the court may well have found against her.
And then what do we do when people do jump off, throw them out. And what if they are incapable of climbing down - this could be a relatively poor climber or the very best in a competition
Do you really think that? As a climber, you possibly have a better appreciation of what falling means than others. However, the point is you wouldn't in reality do it without instruction and then you need to assess how good that instruction is.
Back to climbing wall. We all know that climbing outside can be dangerous but this is a supposedly safe indoors environment (perception). She's played around on a TR and gotten used to falling off/being lowered safely. She's taken to a bouldering wall and, despite some small falls, is not reminded about not falling off (so the court says). She may initially have been advised to downclimb rather than fall off but perhaps not specifically warned of risk of injury, particularly when she had already fallen off. She can see a padded floor and I'll bet there were other climbers falling off. So she has the perception that falling off is ok. To be honest, we all do, it's just that as Dave says - we know how to fall and we take the risk through experience. She didn't have either and, the court says, wasn't properly warned of the consequences.
I think it is quite a fine line this one as, on reading the summary again (I didn't have time to read it properly before), there is clearly some disagreement about what was said and how strongly she was warned. I agree/hope that many would feel it was their own responsibility - yet I can see that looked at coldly, novices in a group with an instructor require a far higher duty of care than your average punter at a wall.
Good point. After all, jumping off in control is better than falling off out of control.
Is perhaps full-on bouldering (as opposed to very low level traversing) not suitable for novices, then? Should we consider other means of warming up, then sticking to top-roped climbing?
I really do think that. In almost any hypothetical scenario, you can pin responsibility/externalise blame - I mean, taken to extreme, you could argue that the web of cause and effect is so complex that no individual is responsible for anything.
You have to draw a line somewhere, and in this case I would say it's fair to expect a basic sense of the mechanics of gravity in relation to one's own body.
The best way to deal with the 'who knows' with such novices is clear instruction and close supervision to stop risky falls; idle speculation on why someone fell off gets us nowhere.
In reply to:
The case summary that has been published is exactly that - a quick summary that may or may not be wholly accurate on the fine detail. Much of what has been said on this thread is speculation and until the full judgement is published we won't know the full findings that the judge made.
Looking at the general situation from the outside, and with a lawyer's hat on, there are a number of issues that stand out.
Firstly this lady was not a normal entrant into a climbing wall. Her company had paid for and was provided with instructors. It is not clear whether these were one to one or not, but it is certainly arguable that a different and higher standard of care should be expected in those circumstances than for a normal unsupervised wall entrant.
Secondly the lady was a beginner, probably not athletic and older. The risks to her from falling onto a mat are higher than for the general climbing population and that should have been considered by the wall.
Thirdly, although any fall carries an intrinsic risk, climbing walls need to make that risk known to a customer that might not be aware of it. If you sat this particular lady down with a cup of tea and asked her to describe the possible risks of falling off onto a mat from 5 ft up she could probably make a decent stab at it. Make her fatigued, possibly scared, in an unusual and novel situation, surrounded by work colleagues, in a place where there is a seemingly safe mat to fall onto, with no instructions and with only a few seconds to decide how to fall and suddenly her failure to make a good decision doesn't seem that unreasonable.
Hah! That's a 'lawyer's point' if ever I heard one!
To be fair, I think you mostly said what I and others have already said - though not quite as clearly ;)
However, you've fallen into the trap as well and speculated that the lady in question was old, not athletic and a tea drinker....
However, your other comments are largely in line with my own thoughts.
Yes! Even if you're not active, you should be responsible for knowing your own physical capabilities.
She is responsible. But so is the wall. Speculating somewhat, she was invited into a commercial facility designed for the general public on a work training day, she (or her company) paid instructors, she was arguably presented with a situation that was more dangerous than it looked, she put herself (whilst supervised) in a compromised situation, she wasn't given the instruction that was paid for. The judge thought the appropriate split of responsibility was 2/3 to the wall.
I mean, if it was a polished wood floor then fair enough, but with mats in place we're going to be thinking "hmm, considering the average fall height, the acceleration due to gravity and my mass we can get the average impact force, now, based on my estimate of the spring constant of the mat, that leaves us with X amount of impact force after the mat has taken some of the energy out of the fall which is - uh oh - greater than the impact force required to break a human ankle if you fall awkwardly. Best be careful then."
We don't know all the details about what she was or wasn't warned about but no, I don't think that jumping vs falling is the issue. I suspect that this about her being (allegedly) unaware of the real level of risk for someone like her. Arguably, she wouldn't have climbed so high (or possibly at all) if she had been. At the least, she wouldn't have been able to argue that she wasn't aware that it could be dangerous.
Imagine the carnage if it happened at the old Richard Dunn wall?
That place shattered more knee caps than Roy Keane
I don't think its unfair at all. Several climbers have carefully explained why they can see a scenario, where, given her experience, she might have been encouraged by the activities that day to get out of her depth. It is also possible that it is really all her fault and that she is a cad. Either way (or anything in between), evidence was taken and this judgement was made. Climbers can moan about that all they like but that is the system we live under. Climbing Walls all recognise they have additional duties in law to look after beginners. You however appear to be stating the onus is mainly on the beginner to recognise the effects of gravity in an unfamiliar setting.
If you look above, I did acknowledge this. We're all speculating here.
Basically, yes. Each case judged on its specific circumstances of course, but in this case I don't think that's unreasonable.
No. And let's be honest, most of the time it is okay to jump or fall onto the mats. But I still think it's your responsibility to judge for yourself, and to look after yourself. To me, this doesn't seem to be expecting an awful lot, but evidently not everyone agrees.
> If you look above, I did acknowledge this. We're all speculating here.
> Basically, yes. Each case judged on its specific circumstances of course, but in this case I don't think that's unreasonable.
It seems to me that falling from a bouldering wall at 5 feet and injuring yourself is just plain unlucky, thats how it should have been judged.
I dont see that the wall is in any way at fault here, whether or not they told her that she should downclimb or not would seem to be irrelevant since, by her own admission (in the linked report), she was exhausted and had to jump off.
she was from a non-climbing group i think and overweight,im not suprised she anapped her twig like ankle to be honest.
i thought about it for a while that evening and i think one of the problems with walls inviting coporate groups/childrens parties etc is not everyone is suitable for climbing/general sporting actvities or at least not straight away,surely if someone has led non sporting/sedetary lifestyle for all or most of their life they havent got the ability to take the shocks and strains of falling onto mats etc.
ive seen non-climbers fall before and its made me wince how un co-ordinated they fall onto the mats.i fell and injured my knee over a year ago and it still aint right,but i climbed way past my best physically and mentally that day and thats why it happened..ive no one to blame but myself..
maybe bouldering should be out for the non-climbers if this is the way things are going...
"maybe bouldering should be out for the non-climbers if this is the way things are going..."
I can certainly see why you might, as an instructor of novices, want to limit bouldering to being a warm-up/cool-down activity involving traversing no more than a foot or so off the ground. That's rather different to jumping from a couple of metres off the ground.
Yes, you could still twist your ankle from that height, but if you fall/jump from the top of a bouldering wall you do need to think about your landing, and novices won't necessarily do that, expecting soft mats=safe - not an unnatural assumption if they've just been on the ropes where unsafe height=protected by a top rope.
I think she should be shot.
Most walls have signs up saying "mats don't completely reduce the chance of injury" or similar - if this was the case I can't see how someone could claim. The only way to completely reduce the chance of injury from falling off a wall is not to set foot off the ground in the first place. Though I can't imagine 10 folk standing on the ground looking up at the wall would make for a very fun event!
Or all climbing at a wall. You could easily injure yourself toproping after all (if your belayer was useless).
It will be interesting to see if it gets appealed. I' m not convinced that the case wouldnt have been decided differently with a different judge. If she had fallen, rather than jumped, and sustained the same injury, many of the arguments in her favour would drop away. Given that falling is an obvious and inherent part of bouldering it's difficult to see why a distinction should be made for jumping off.
> It will be interesting to see if it gets appealed. I' m not convinced that the case wouldnt have been decided differently with a different judge. If she had fallen, rather than jumped, and sustained the same injury, many of the arguments in her favour would drop away.
If they do re-try the case someone should persuade the judge and counsel to actually climb on a bouldering wall for ten minutes.
Ten minutes on a bouldering wall would bring far more understanding about why people jump and why climbing walls can warn of the risk but can't stop them than ten hours reading legal documents.
> It will be interesting to see if it gets appealed. I' m not convinced that the case wouldnt have been decided differently with a different judge. If she had fallen, rather than jumped, and sustained the same injury, many of the arguments in her favour would drop away. Given that falling is an obvious and inherent part of bouldering it's difficult to see why a distinction should be made for jumping off.
I'd be very surprised if there were an appeal.
Call me naive, but what amazes me about this is that *anyone* could be so astonishingly incompetent as not to manage to jump down five foot on to a mat without injuring themselves. An uncontrolled fall, maybe, but when you have time to pick a landing? I just don't understand how it's possible to be so physically inept and still walk around without falling over the whole time. I mean, my two-year-old could do better. Literally. Much better.
-not used to jumping down from five feet
-have a weak ankle or similar
-don't jump out enough
-jump out too much
-or a combination of the above..
etc, etc, blah blah blah
It happens, check out most climbing wall's accident books or the BMC climbing wall accident report data base. Not all folk are as sure footed and cat like as you...meeeow
As for your 2 year old to jumping down from 5 feet.....
I think you're naive too, John, if you are talking about a sample of the middle-aged population picked at random (of which a group of HBOS office workers might not be a bad approximation). I think if you took a group of 100 random middle-aged office workers and made them jump off a 6-foot wall onto stiff padding a sizable proportion would injure themselves and couple would break something.
Useless speculation, of course. It's a testable hypothesis and would be enormously entertaining but I can't see it happening unless we can sell it to a bank as a team-building exercise. Perhaps combined with a first aid at work course.
> I'd be very surprised if there were an appeal.
> Call me naive, but what amazes me about this is that *anyone* could be so astonishingly incompetent as not to manage to jump down five foot on to a mat without injuring themselves.
You might think that, but consider Steph Twell - she's an international athlete, so she knows how to run with a modicum of competence. Despite that, she broke her leg when competing in a cross-country race in Belgium last year - all she did was slip and fall. Sometimes, things just happen.
> Call me naive, but what amazes me about this is that *anyone* could be so astonishingly incompetent as not to manage to jump down five foot on to a mat without injuring themselves.
That presumably includes the boulders who injure themselves every year jumping down - of whom there are a lot.
It's not a question of whether or not it was dangerous, it a question of whether or not an instructor should expressly warn about the dangers
The judge found that they didn't (a fact they dispute) and should have done
The crucial fact is that the group were under instruction, not using the wall as competent climbers. I don't think we would have as much outrage if a case was brought where a supervised novice fell because of an incorrectly tied knot - it looks to me that the judge has assumed the same standard of supervision should apply on the bouldering wall.
I was tangentially involved in a case a couple of years ago where the (bad) injury was suffered as a result of a fall induced by a spinning hold. On a bouldering wall. To a pretty competent, experienced climber.
The judgement was against the wall (a lot of the issues there were around warnings and warning signs)and substantial damages were paid; this fresh case doesn't really set a precedent - I think its been set quite a while ago.
I mostly agree with you. I was just answering John's point. It was clearly more dangerous than the woman judged it to be but it shouldn't have been left to her judgement.
Is this thread still rumbling on?
In what way does this case set a precedent?
So far as I can see from what has been reported it revolves around whether the wall gave an adequate briefing to an inexperienced person or whether it failed to give such a briefing. The wall is apparantly claiming it did, the injured woman is saying it didn't. The judge has ruled two thirds in favour of the woman.
It seems perfectly reasonable to expect a wall's duty of care should extend to adequately briefing an inexperienced group attending a corporate event under their care.
A simple sign next to the wall stating:
"Bouldering is inherently dangerous and you risk injury if you use this facility. DO NOT JUMP DOWN!"
That way all the supervisors would have to do is point them at the sign and let them choose whether to do it or not. If you can't make a simple risk assessment about the dangers of climbing 3m off the ground and accept responsibility when it goes wrong at the age of 44 then it makes you wonder how she copes with daily life. Pathetic.
> You might think that, but consider Steph Twell - she's an international athlete, so she knows how to run with a modicum of competence. Despite that, she broke her leg when competing in a cross-country race in Belgium last year - all she did was slip and fall. Sometimes, things just happen.
Well, yeah, but she was presumably running at high speed when she suffered an uncontrolled fall. That's different.
>As for your 2 year old to jumping down from 5 feet.....
I can assure you that both of my children have regularly jumped off the top of my home bouldering wall on to the mat since before they were two.
It's a pity they didn't break their legs, really. Presumably they could have sued me for lack of supervision and I could have claimed on the household insurance.
Now we're talking!
>I was tangentially involved in a case a couple of years ago where the (bad) injury was suffered as a result of a fall induced by a spinning hold. On a bouldering wall. To a pretty competent, experienced climber.
The judgement was against the wall
I must say that's more disturbing - not least the fact that any competent and experienced climber would actually sue.
Quite. Being quite heavy, I am no stranger to spinning holds, and I have been slightly injured as a result before (only cuts and the likes from hitting things while falling awkwardly) but that's no different to climbing on rock where holds may fail entirely.
Nobody should be decking out from taking such a fall (unless they're unlucky enough to fall from very low down on the wall while clipping and their belayer is using a ground anchor so can't run backwards to take in, I guess) - unless their belayer isn't paying attention, anyway - and if that's the case it's their fault, not the wall's.
I'm heading for a boulder at Caley now, can anyone recommend a good insurance broker? Hang on, but first I have to tackle the steps from my front door.... thinK I will stay at home today and sit very still.
You can go to Afghanistan and lose half your limbs and get less than a woman who clearly is lacking in common sense?
If a holiday company took you to Afganistan climbing it was perfectly safe when you had no experience of the place and you were expecting a lovely holiday and then you lost your limbs the payout would be a good deal larger.
I cant beleive these threads are still going on. The law on liabilty is real and all this ranting about it is silly. If the woman was a climber I could understand people getting upset (albeit it still changing nothing) but she was someone on a corporate team building trip.
> The law on liabilty is real and all this ranting about it is silly.
Just because the law is 'real' doesn't mean that ranting about it is silly. There used to be a 'real' law that specified the death penalty for stealing a handkerchief. Ranting about stupid laws is part of the political process in a democracy.
Not only that but just because there is a law does not mean the court interpreted it correctly.
Indeed not, but kneejerk 'how can lawyers possibly be so stupid' responses aren't an argument one way or the other.
More considered analysis here:
I'm a bit skint at the moment, but I'm going to be rich pretty soon. I just stuck my hand in the fire. It hurt a LOT and I smell like a pork dinner, but I'll be able to sue British Gas because the b@stards never told me not to do it. Next week, I'm going for a stroll on the motorway so I can sue Ford.
So what are you saying? That the laws around liability are wrong in the same way the law on the death penalty for murder was, and they need challenging as directly: if so I'd say that is plain silly (yet I'd remind you almost every survey since the repeal shows the majority of our nation's citizens favour bringing this back - something I see as largly ignorance or revenge motivated, not recognising the very good reasons why it was repealed). Or are you saying the law was clearly applied wrongly: if so why? The thread Dave Garnett posted gives a line af possible argument but its not as clear cut as you'd expect from some of the ranting.
I guess I'd expected a little more reasoned argument from climbers than demonstrated on the various threads where this came up. I think Craggy Island were very unlucky as this could have happened almost anywhere with similar facilities and the legal decision could easily have gone the other way but that is in the obvious and well understood context that you owe more duty of care to beginners than experienced practitioners in a commercial wall: ie there is a risk of liability attached in such accidents.
If climbers not uncommonly hurt themselves jumping off in bouldering walls, yet still do it all the time, why do posters think the risk of jumping off onto mats is so obvious to a first-timer witnessing this?
Why do many walls say climb down where for inexperienced climbers who may face an uncontrolled fall because of this could have more risk than they would have jumping?
Should inexperienced climbers have a rule like some bouldering walls have for kids... eg no hand holds allowed above a 3m line, must always be accompanied, etc?
At first I thought that was woman was a fool, but I have thought about it some more and think the court decision was probably correct. If she had been on her own and not part of an instructed session she would not have a leg to stand on (pun not intended). However as she was part of an instructed session the instructors should have made it vitally clear not to jump down and that the mats might not stop you breaking yourself. If she was a climber then fair enough, but as she isn't then Craggys insurers should pay up.
We don't know how much she will be awarded yet, but I would imagine it would be loss of earnings and then a bit more. I very much doubt it will be £100,000 her lawyers are looking for.
More importantly, the BMC / MCof S 'Statement of Participation' would have been brought to all the facility's users attention at the time of first joining or registering for instruction. So, does this ruling now negate the caveat which the statement provides for our sport at all levels?
It could be considered negligent to not forewarn that the soft matting may not result in broken bones, as people make will make the assumption it is safe. With the groups I work with I don't think they get to see the BMC Statement of Participation, and it is possible that they don't up at Craggy either. I will check the paperwork when I get into work.
The participation statement has never been a guard against negligence, and is certainly to broad to apply here. It would be useful if the claiment argued that they were not made aware that there were risks inherent to climbing.
I'm going for a stroll on the motorway so I can sue Ford.
Hope you don`t get hit by a Nissan then
not a close enough analogy to be relevant. Maybe more along the lines of "My employer has sent me on a teambuilding exercise organised by people who specialise in walking along motorways..." ?
> Why do many walls say climb down where for inexperienced climbers who may face an uncontrolled fall because of this could have more risk than they would have jumping?
Because there's more risk of injury from jumping off than from downclimbing, no matter how (in)experienced you are.
Really, always, for someone who doesnt know how to downclimb? Controlled jump versus uncontrolled fall from almost the same place?? Nearly all these injuries are when people don't land in control.
Not always, but I'm sure in the vast majority of cases.
Soneone who doesn't know how to downclimb will often also not know how to land well when jumping off. In which case it would really be an uncontrolled jump.
i am sort of surprised from many comments.
indoors is not outdoors and a commercial climbing wall is not your friend's woodie.
let's give a slightly twisted example.
In 2010, the bouldering wall i was going to started to have serious mat problems, with the outer shell cracking in some spots and becoming loose.
As a result, the mats became too soft and unstable in said areas: obviously dangerous to an experienced eye, maybe not for a beginner.
These sections were not closed and no warnings were given.
There was a stint of recurrent ankle injuries from falls on the damaged mats, until the wall finally decided to change them.
in such case, would you blame an injuried climber choosing to sue?
Pretty sure I wouldn't sue. But then I can't think of many cases where I would.
My response siding to the ruling about her not being a true climber would be this,
I went outdoor climbing for a company team building exercise, I was only 16 and was part of my induction, we didnt have any prior talk or training, we where told it was up to us if we wanted to give it ago, and at that tender age I had at least enough savvy to understand the risks I was taking and understood that things can go wrong.. So whats this womans excuse?
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