If you have ever gone skiing, zip-lining, attended classes at a gym, enjoyed rides at an amusement park, or participated in other adventurous activities, you almost definitely had to sign a waiver protecting the company host from liability should you sustain an injury during the activity. But what if you do get hurt and face expensive medical bills and other life changes? Is the company completely absolved of paying you compensation?
Though signing a waiver brings complications to a personal injury claim, you can still secure damages if your injury could and should have been prevented. A personal injury lawyer from John Foy & Associates will partner with you and manage your case, navigating it through the legal process and any complications with efficiency.
Waivers Do Not Create a “Free-for-All” for Companies
A waiver is not a magic document that absolves companies from taking safety measures to protect their customers. Companies are not exempted from their legal responsibilities of keeping their environment free of known hazards and providing safety equipment or instructions.
A waiver essentially requires you to take personal responsibility if you sustain an injury during “normal” participation in the activity at hand. If you do not follow safety instructions or sabotage your own experience, the waiver can protect the company from a claim for an injury that you caused through your own negligent or bad behavior.
However, a waiver does not remove responsibility from a business for hiring trained employees, maintaining safe equipment, or making other errors that compromise its patrons’ well-being. For example, if you go zip-lining and are injured when a line collapses, you have grounds for a personal injury case. It was not your job to ensure the lines were properly secured and calibrated–that job belongs to the business.
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Waivers Do Not Protect Companies from Harm Caused Intentionally
Unfortunately, some employees, even those responsible for providing customers with an enjoyable experience, are just not suited for their roles. It is the company’s job to hire workers who will fulfill their roles, treat customers well, and protect the customers’ safety. If a worker’s egregious or intentional negligence causes you harm, the waiver does not preclude you from filing a lawsuit.
Just as it is the company’s job to ensure safe zip lines, it is usually an employee’s job to check that your harness is properly secured. If that employee never bothers to check your harness, though doing so is part of their assigned role, that egregious negligence could provide grounds for a personal injury case.
An employee’s intentional act of negligence or harm also creates to the possibility of a lawsuit. For example, if a child is attending summer camp and a counselor intentionally pushes that child during a moment of anger, causing the child to fall and hit their head or break a bone, a waiver will not protect the company or employee from litigation.
Safety Responsibilities Companies Must Fulfill, Even with Waivers
Businesses must comply with safety regulations. These regulations vary depending on the activities hosted by the business, and an experienced personal injury lawyer will scrutinize those regulations to determine where and how their failure to comply led to your injuries.
Basic regulations businesses must follow include:
- Maintaining a safe environment: Known dangers must be removed from the premises or marked and pointed out to patrons as areas to avoid
- Keeping equipment in working order: Rides, attractions, and safety equipment must be inspected and kept in proper working order
- Hiring and training enough workers: There must be enough staff on hand to keep the business and its activities running safely. Staff must be trained to oversee the activities assigned to them and respond appropriately when issues arise
- Providing safety instructions: High-adventure activities, such as water slides, bungee jumping, parasailing, or snorkeling require orientation. Participants need to be instructed in the proper use of equipment, how to avoid reasonably predictable dangers, and the general rules they need to follow.
Customers Must Knowingly and Willingly Sign the Waiver
For a waiver to stand up in court, customers have to have known what they were signing and have signed it willingly. You might wonder how a person could be “forced” to sign a waiver or completely unaware of what they were signing. Believe it or not, those scenarios are not that common.
For example, a waiver may be void and thrown out of court if:
- Its language is unclear. If the waiver was difficult for a reasonable person to understand, you might not have truly realized what you were signing.
- You asked questions about the waiver but received incorrect or misleading answers.
- You were too young to sign the waiver: Minors cannot sign waivers; a parent or guardian must sign for them. A waiver signed by a minor will not hold up in court.
- The waiver was misleading or dishonest: Waivers that do not accurately reveal the level of risk involved in the related activity may be fraudulent. Companies may hide risks to encourage more participants.
- You signed under duress. For example, you must sign a waiver to play in a company soccer game and are told you will face repercussions for failure to sign and participate, and are then hurt during the game. Waivers signed through coercion are void.
- You were pressured into signing: You were not given enough time to read and understand the waiver
To be upheld in court, a waiver must have been signed of your own free will and with your full awareness. If you were forced into signing a waiver unknowingly, a skilled personal injury lawyer will compile evidence to prove your situation and have the waiver voided.
A Waiver Is Not the End of the Story
If you signed a waiver to participate in an activity and then experienced a serious and preventable injury, connect with a personal injury lawyer from John Foy & Associates right away. Signing a waiver is not the end of your recovery story. Companies and businesses still owe you a safe experience. We will review your case for free and develop a course of action to secure the settlement you need to cover your bills and secure your future.