There’s this pretty amazing YouTube video featuring Rafael Dumon at Lake Garda, Italy. Dumon attempts a self-proclaimed world’s first: using a wingsuit to jump off a mountain, gliding onto the lake far below.
“I’m not going to be using my chute, and I will end up skimming on the lake. And instead of bouncing, I will hope to kind of glide in at a trajectory, similar to a plane,” Dumon says.
Believe it or not, he does it, capturing the feat with a GoPro camera:
But what if something had gone wrong? Could GoPro be held liable? After all, the company has its own YouTube channel for users to share extreme videos.
“Well, I would say that they’re certainly at risk for a lawsuit, but not necessarily at risk for losing a lawsuit,” says Jim Underwood, a law professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
He says for GoPro to lose, the plaintiffs would actually need to prove there was something wrong with the camera that caused the accident.
Underwood says another possible lawsuit would be for a plaintiff to blame the risky behavior on the company’s marketing, “and that they failed to provide adequate warnings of those dangers.”
But in the same breath, he says the courts have ruled that when the danger is clear, there’s no need to spell out it.
“In fact, that’s why these videos are so popular – because the danger is so obvious and sometimes shocking,” Underwood says.
Even though it may be difficult for GoPro to lose one of these lawsuits, the company wants would-be investors to know they could be sued.
On page 34 of GoPro’s IPO filing with the Securitites and Exchange Commission under a section entitled “risk,” the company writes:
“Consumers use our cameras and accessories to self-capture their participation in a wide variety of physical activities, including extreme sports, which in many cases carry the risk of significant injury. We may be subject to claims if consumers are injured while using our products.”
GoPro may have reason to be concerned. The workout app Strava, which lets cyclists and runners compete virtually, has been criticized — and even sued — for encouraging dangerous biking in busy cities.
“Trial lawyers will never miss an opportunity to try to open a new avenue for litigation. Certainly the world of apps is one of those,” says Bob Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute.
He says unless laws start to change, the way litigation works in this country — lawyers are actually encouraged to file a lawsuit against everything and everyone involved in an accident. Even a GoPro camera.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.