Jackass Crew Members Sued for Injury Allegedly Caused During Stunt
The “Jackass” franchise has built somewhat of a cult following from dangerous stunts recorded on video. In 2018, the practical jokers may have taken stunts a bit too far in an alleged jet ski stunt gone wrong that resulted in a serious injury. A lawsuit was recently filed against Steve-O and Chris Pontius, two of the biggest Jackass stars, seeking $12 million in damages for these injuries.
Michael Vicens-Segura, the Plaintiff in the lawsuit, was asked by the Defendants to use his jet ski for the stunt being filmed in Puerto Rico. According to the reports, the Plaintiff permitted the Jackass stars to hold one of the jet skis steady in the water and a bungee cord ripped off one the harnesses subsequently hitting the Plaintiff in the head. He was rushed to the hospital and suffered a series of scars as well as long-term side effects. Perhaps complicating things from a legal perspective, the accident was caught on video by TMZ (warning, the video is graphic content).
So how would the case pan out from a personal injury perspective? Well, that would depend largely on Puerto Rico law and how it deals with negligence. Negligence is a legal concept that is the underpinning of almost every injury lawsuit. While jurisdictions differ, almost every state (or territory in the case of Puerto Rico), treats negligence in a similar way. The injured Plaintiff must prove that:
- The Defendant owed the Plaintiff a legal duty to refrain from certain conduct;
- The Defendant engaged in conduct that breached this duty.
- The Plaintiff suffered damages or injuries as a result of the breach and they were caused by the breach.
Typically, if these elements can be established, the Plaintiff would have a potential lawsuit for their personal injury claim. Of course, the facts and circumstances of any particular case would be the determinative factor. Depending on the facts in Mr. Vicens-Segura, he very well may have a case for negligence if it can be proven that the Jackass stars or crew had a duty not to engage in this type of behavior and that the duty was breached by the bungee cord snapping and injuring him. This will depend heavily on Puerto Rico law and the facts as they are established through discovery in the lawsuit.
It is widely known that the Jackass crew, and premise for the production itself, is inherently dangerous. The pranks and stunts often result in injuries and this becomes relevant in the personal injury case due to a concept commonly referred to as assumption of the risk. Each State, or territory in Puerto Rico’s case, has their own treatment of assumption of the risk. Injured Plaintiffs can even be barred from recovering damages at all if they voluntarily, willingly and knowingly exposed themselves to a known danger. The question in the case is whether or not Mr. Vicens-Segura knowingly and willingly exposed himself to the risk of a bungee cord snapping by agreeing to provide his jet ski and, more importantly, place himself in harm’s way while the stunt was being performed. This could be a critical aspect of the case and could even result in the Plaintiff being unable to recover damages for the injuries.
As injury attorneys, we always focus on seeking insurance coverage for the injuries caused to our clients. It is important to focus on this because while establishing liability is also key, making sure that any damages caused as a result of that liability can be compensated is often the most important factor. In the case of film sets, there are typically film insurance general liability policies that cover injuries and damage during a film shoot. Depending on whether this insurance was in place by the Jackass crew and the particulars of the policy, it could very well involve an insurance policy if liability is established.
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Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan