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Exciting experiences like ziplining, training classes, and sports and activities provided by businesses are often accompanied by legal documents known as liability waivers. As a participant, it’s important to know the impact a liability waiver can have on your rights to recover damages in the event of an accident. However, just because you have signed a liability waiver, doesn’t mean you can’t recover damages if a company or organization has been intentionally or grossly negligent.
Liability waivers, sometimes referred to as release forms, are legally binding documents that people engaging in an activity must sign to acknowledge the risks and dangers associated with the activity. These waivers also absolve a company from responsibility for harm or damage that may come to a participant. You have probably signed many liability waivers in your lifetime. Common places or activities that require liability waivers include gyms, outdoor sports, amusement parks, escape rooms, and more.
Participating in activities that could be risky or dangerous will require participants to sign waivers– it is impossible to opt out of signing the waiver and still participate in the activity. So, if you’re unwilling to sign the waiver you should not expect to enjoy the activity.
In short, it depends. Oftentimes, liability waivers prevent participants from suing to cover medical expenses or lost wages– signing the waiver will preclude claims for injuries. In 2006, a Pennsylvania cyclist attempted to recover damages after participating in an organized biking tour. The cyclist was injured when his front bike tire was caught in a pothole on a public roadway, causing him to be unable to steer and fall off his bike. In the original suit, the cyclist claims the biking tour organizers were negligent and failed to inspect the safety of the route and provide an alternative, safer route. However, the court did not agree. In 20009, the Commonwealth decided in Vinikoor v. Pedal Pennsylvania that Pedal Pennsylvania was not negligent and that when Vinikoor, the cyclist, signed a liability waiver he acknowledged the potential risks associated with the biking tour.
Vinikoor v. Pedal Pennsylvania established that liability waivers are successful in protecting companies and organizations that provide risky activities from responsibility for accidents. When you sign a liability waiver, or a release form, you should be aware of the rights you are giving away and consider it carefully.
You might! Liability waivers are not always sufficient in personal injury cases for a variety of reasons, and you should consult with an attorney to see if you have a strong case.
All liability waivers must be clearly worded and unambiguous. If the document is unclear, hidden, or ambiguous you may have a claim. Participants must be able to understand what risks they are taking on and the rights they are signing away in case of an accident. Pennsylvania law also required waivers to be prominent, meaning they cannot be hidden or bogged down in excessive text. For example, a liability waiver hidden in fine print at the end of a lengthy contract may be defeated in court.
Moreover, liability waivers also cannot stop you from suing for damages in the event of gross negligence or recklessness. Gross negligence or recklessness refers to conduct that shows a complete disregard for a participant’s safety. A few examples of gross negligence include being provided with broken and damaged equipment or intentional harm caused by an ill-advising instructor.
If you’ve been injured even after signing a liability release waiver, you may still have a case that demonstrates gross negligence. Attorney Crichton has a strong record of advocating for clients who have been injured due to reckless or negligent conduct. While you focus on recovery, Attorney Crichton will handle all matters and build your case. If you’ve been injured, due to another’s recklessness you should not have to bear the burden alone.
All of our personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless we win your case.
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