With summer here, many parents are being asked to sign waivers of liability for their children and themselves to participate in various activities. Before signing a waiver of liability, it is a good idea to learn more about these legal documents.
What is a Waiver of Liability?
A waiver of liability is an agreement between two or more parties, usually in writing, where one party gives up his or her rights to sue another party for injuries and/or death related to some type of accident or event. Waivers of liability are designed to protect business owners and individuals from being sued if something goes wrong during the activity or the event.
Examples of situations where management may require a waiver of liability include:
- Sporting and athletic activities
- Some carnival rides (i.e. the ride that slings you hundreds of feet into the air with a bungie cord)
- Zip Line rides
- Some summer camps
- Riding horses
- School field trips
- Gyms and fitness centers
Waivers of liability seem to be popping up everywhere these days as more and more companies and individuals try to get out of being responsible for their negligent and reckless acts. However, waivers of liability are not always valid; therefore, never assume you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit even if you signed a waiver of liability.
Contact A Wrongful Death Lawyer Even If You Signed A Waiver Of Liability – You May Still Have The Right To File A Wrongful Death Claim
Reasons Why You May Still Have A Wrongful Death Claim
In some cases, a waiver of liability may prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit. Attorneys draft these documents; therefore, many of the releases cover every conceivable event that could cause harm to someone. However, a waiver of liability or a release is not enforceable if one or more of the following is present:
- Misrepresentation or Fraud – If the owner of the company or the organizer of the event intentionally deceived you by making false statements to obtain your signature on a release or waiver, that document may not be valid. You must understand and agree to what you are signing — fraud and misrepresentation prevents you from freely and knowingly signing the waiver.
- Requirements for Form – For a waiver or release to be valid, it must have certain elements. For example, the language must be easy to understand, clear, and concise. If the waiver is intentionally written to confuse the reader, it may not be valid. The waiver must also contain specific information about the activity, the parties being released, and the rights you are giving up by signing the wavier. An overly broad release may violate California contract laws.
- Product Liability – When you sign a waiver of liability, you are not giving up your right to sue a manufacturer or other responsible party if a product is defective and that defect causes an injury.
- Gross Negligence – A waiver of liability does not release a party from actions that are grossly negligent or reckless. A 2007 California Supreme Court opinion held that a waiver of liability signed by a mother did not prevent the mother from filing a wrongful death lawsuit for gross negligence and recklessness regarding the drowning death of her disabled daughter at a summer camp.
It is always in your best interest to have a wrongful death lawyer or personal injury attorney review a release of liability. The company will emphatically argue with you that the document you signed prevents you from filing any claim against the company for injury or death. This may or may not be true. An experienced wrongful death lawyer is the person who can tell you if this is true or if you have a claim against the company.