Does signing a waiver always limit your ability to sue?
You are probably familiar with many of the common liability waivers that come as a part of participating in certain groups — gyms, school sports, recreational activities and more. You might expect to sign these documents as a matter of course, usually as part of initial contract proceedings. Liability waivers can seem so rote and routine that you may not even pay much attention to them as you are signing.
Then the unexpected happens. You, or your minor child, suffer injuries while on the premises of another business, and you feel that the other party is at fault for the injury. Does the fact that you signed the waiver automatically mean that you aren’t eligible to file a lawsuit? Perhaps, but every rule has exceptions.
Common Types of Waivers
As it turns out, a waiver is not a free pass for a business or government entity to neglect its duties to keep its customers safe. Moreover, not every waiver is an enforceable one. Below is a list of waivers you might sign and the exceptions that could potentially apply:
- School waivers — Do you even have to sign that waiver? It is possible that you do not have to sign for you (or your child) to participate in the activity. If you do have to sign to take part, then know that the waiver may not be enforceable if you suffer injuries due to the negligence of the school.
- Gym waivers — Due to the physical nature of gym activities, it is extremely common for gyms to have you sign a waiver when you sign up. Several factors, such as the specific verbiage of the document, where you choose to file your claim, and the specifics of your injury will determine whether you could successfully pursue litigation.
- Day care waivers — Day care centers will often include a liability waiver as part of the signup documentation. Since judges do not want to condone negligent behavior from those who care for children, often, if a child is hurt due to neglect in a day care, the waiver will not hold up in court.
- Spectator sports — Wait, did you sign a waiver when you went to the ball game? Most of the time, the answer is yes. When you buy the ticket to a sports game, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions, which most of the time includes a liability waiver. If a foul ball strikes you, you may have signed away your right to sue, but like the other cases, it depends on the circumstances of the injury.
- Government waivers — That’s right, even city hall may have slipped in a waiver, but if they failed to maintain certain standards, you could still potentially pursue a claim.
A liability waiver is a good document to protect businesses against frivolous lawsuits, but it does not give agencies the ability to turn a blind eye to their duty to maintain a safe space for others. The enforceability of the waiver depends on the language of the document and the specifics of the incident. Independent research, or a consultation with a personal injury attorney, can offer more guidance for any questions you have about your unique case.
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