Do you still have a legal case after signing a liability waiver?

Have you or a loved one been injured or otherwise harmed in an activity after signing a liability waiver? Read on to learn more about your legal rights.

Before you take part in some activities or use particular services, you may be asked to sign a release form or waiver. These are documents that absolve businesses, organizations, or people from legal liability in the case of accident or injury. 

However, what can you do if something does go wrong and the person or organisation is at fault? You may be wondering, after signing a waiver, do I still have a case?

To help you understand your legal rights, in this article we will look at what waivers are, and how enforceable they are in particular circumstances.

What are liability waivers?

Liability waivers are legal documents that are created with the intention of protecting parties from possible lawsuits that may arise from negligence, accidents, or injuries. You may come across liability waivers when:

  • Participating in activities like skiing, sky diving, rock climbing and water sports.
  • Joining a gym or fitness centre, or hiring a fitness trainer.
  • Hiring a doctor or lawyer.
  • Visiting a hair or beauty salon or health spa.

However, while liability waivers can certainly limit the extent of legal liability, they don’t provide absolute, iron-clad protection. Let’s look at some of the ways that liability waivers may not always be enforceable.

The enforceability can vary

How enforceable a liability waiver might be depends on a number factors, such as state law, the specific language in the waiver, and the circumstances of an incident. Courts examine waivers carefully and might choose not to enforce them if they are too broad, unclear or morally dubious. 

Gross negligence or intentional harm has been committed 

As a rule, liability waivers are designed to protect you from ordinary negligence – not from gross negligence, intentional harm, or illegal activities. If you can make a case that the other party’s actions were reckless or intentional, you may be able to pursue them for damages. 

There are public policy exceptions

In some cases, there may be public policy exceptions to liability waivers. This might include activities that are essential public services or that involve a risk to public safety. This can impact the enforceability of a liability waiver.

The waiver was signed by a minors or an incapacitated person

In many jurisdictions, minors (children under the age of 18) and people who lack the capacity to understand the consequences of the waiver (for example, due to mental impairment) are not bound by liability waivers. In these scenarios, you may still be able to purse a legal case. 

Information is missing or misleading

If the person or organization who asked you to sign the waiver did not adequately inform you of, or misrepresented the risks involved the in situation or activity, the waiver might not be legally enforceable. 

A liability waiver doesn’t automatically mean you have no legal rights

If you have been injured or otherwise hurt and you have signed a liability waiver, it does not automatically mean you have no legal rights. As you can see from this article, while waivers do provide some protection for a person or organization who issued it, there are circumstances in which they may not be legally enforceable. 

It is always important to seek the help of an experienced attorney if you have been injured, especially if you have signed a liability waiver. They will be able to evaluate your unique situation and offer advice on your best course of action.