Many of the places we visit for recreation or fun have us sign waivers or releases of liability. These documents insulate businesses and other entities from litigation in the event someone becomes injured on their property. In a general sense, you’re entitled to sue for compensation when someone else’s negligence leads to your injury. A waiver of liability, however, limits your ability to gain compensation. On the other hand, some people think they have no legal ground to stand on if they sign a waiver and become injured, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Here are some of the most common misconceptions and questions about legal liability waivers.
Can I Ever Sue for Negligence After Signing a Waiver?
It depends. Many recreational facilities, gyms, daycares, and inherently risky activities (like skiing, trampoline parks, etc) make you sign these waivers because the likelihood is higher that you may be hurt. When gross negligence leads to your injuries, however, you may be able to still gain compensation for your injuries.
Waivers make good business sense, but they’re also not bulletproof. The purpose of a waiver is to warn you of the possible harms of an activity, whether it’s a sport or surgery. By signing a waiver, you agree that you understand the risks of the activity but choose to do it anyway. If someone’s negligence leads to your injuries instead of a common or listed risk, it’s a different story. You’re not signing a waiver that gives someone the right to be negligent.
Do I Have to Sign a Waiver?
Many recreational facilities won’t let you participate in an activity unless you sign a waiver. An exception is a school waiver – under the law, your child is entitled to a free and fair public education. Many school waivers are not strictly required, though exceptions might apply for extracurricular activities like sports. If you are not required to sign a waiver, it might be in your best interest to avoid doing so. As always, signing a waiver does not insulate a school from negligence.
What About Waivers for Daycare?
Most parents have to sign a waiver for daycare that says they will not sue if a child becomes injured in their care. These waivers, however, are not ironclad. Generally, the courts do not look favorably upon waivers in daycares when they hear cases that arise as the result of provider negligence. Deeming these waivers unenforceable is an important step in condemning negligence as it pertains to the care of our nation’s children.
Liability and Entertainment Events
Most people don’t realize that when they purchase tickets to a baseball game or a concert, they sign a waiver and agree to certain terms of service. Most sporting events, for example, contain a waiver that states you accept the risk of injury when you attend the event. This is called the “Baseball Rule” because it prevents people from suing a franchise if a foul ball hits them, though it’s generalizable to many sports and venues. In these instances, it would be difficult to gain compensation for your injuries.