A new bill has been introduced in the state of New Mexico by Republican representative Gail Armstrong with in the intention of shielding skydiving companies from lawsuits. Skydiving is hugely popular in New Mexico, especially in the area in which Armstrong is from. She has never tried the extreme sport herself and never intends to. However, she believes that the risks that go along with skydiving are the sole responsibility of the jumper and not the company itself.
“It’s a risk getting in the plane, flying in the plane. Of course, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and then landing also,” Armstrong stated.
One of New Mexico’s largest hubs for skydiving is located in Belen, which is in Valencia county and falls under her jurisdiction. Armstrong represents Socorro, Catron, and Valencia Counties. With skydiving raking in so much revenue for the local economy, it should come as no surprise that Armstrong would want to protect these companies from being sued. Lawsuits against companies that have not been negligent are bad for business. Bad business means lower revenue, which then translates to weakening the local economy.
Due to the beautiful New Mexico landscape and the semi arid climate all year around, New Mexico is a hotspot for tourists and locals to skydive. The weather is just right most of the time, and the scenery is unmatched. With the Rio Grande as a primary tourist attraction, it’s no wonder that thousands of people flock to New Mexico for this extreme sport every year.
This new piece of legislature will require skydivers to sign a disclosure stating that they understand the risk of jumping from an airplane. All skydiving facilities require that skydivers sign waivers before they are allowed to make the jump. This bill will take it to the next level. The goal of the bill is to limit the amount of potential injury related lawsuits. If passed, it will most certainly help make skydiving a safer endeavor for both the skydivers and the skydiving companies involved.
Kendrick Dane, avid skydiver and the lawyer who drafted the bill, spoke with KRQE News 13 about the details of the bill. Part of the bill states that the drop zones for the skydiving companies must be covered by at least $100,000 in insurance. This provides more protection for the skydivers. In the rare event that an accident does happen, there will be ample support for the people involved via the insurance companies.
“All this does is take what the skydiving industry already does in private waivers and moves it to the statutory level, which provides the courts with greater guidance when these cases proceed through the courts,” Dane said.
If this new legislature passes and becomes a state law, it is expected to strengthen the skydiving industry in New Mexico. Similar laws are already set in place for other sports such as horseback riding and skiing. When partaking in any sport, extreme or not, one must always consider the risks of said sport. Driving a car is very dangerous statistically, but it is essential in the everyday lives of people across the country. Scuba diving is dangerous too, but there are many people who enjoy doing it. This bill simply allows the skydiving companies to operate without fear of unwarranted court proceedings.
This bill does not protect skydiving companies in the event of injury or death due to company negligence. This is only meant to keep accidental injury lawsuits against skydiving companies out of the courts if there was no fault on the part of the company itself.