Does signing a waiver mean you can’t sue if you are injured?
A waiver is a legal document that states, with your signature, you can not sue for damages caused by someone else’s negligence. What do those words mean? It means that if you want to take part in an activity, you are signing a form that says you can participate, but at your own risk. This applies even if the company or the employee is careless or negligent. But does signing a waiver mean you can’t sue if you are injured? Nowadays, it is almost impossible to do anything without signing one. Waivers are good risk management tools for businesses but at times they are not enforceable. If you have signed a waiver and are injured, ask a personal injury lawyer to review your waiver. Our lawyers can look at your situation and see if you are in a position to take legal action.
Why do businesses need waivers?
A business cannot operate without insurance. But a business must qualify for insurance coverage to obtain a policy. The insurance companies must be confident that the risk of a potential claim from a policy holder is minimal. A solid legal waiver can reduce the potential for being held liable for negligence from both the business and its employee. A waiver is a risk management tool a business can use to assure insurance companies that a potential claim is minimal. Also, businesses with strong legal waivers can benefit from lowered premiums on policies and reduce operating expenses.
What if I am injured?
So, the insurance company gets their premium, and the business gets the insurance required to operate, but what happens to you if your seriously hurt? This is when you need to consult with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will examine the waiver and look at the injury and how it occurred. They will then determine if there is negligence. If the waiver meets the legal tests required to be enforced, you will not be able to sue for your injury. Therefore, a good personal injury lawyer will take the time to listen to your story. They will ask you questions and see if you have a claim based on your story and the terms of the waiver.
Remember, you always have the choice to sign or not. If you choose not to sign you must be prepared to not participate. You are not entitled to any compensation for your expenses or time incurred to arrive at a venue and do not sign the waiver. The courts will not consider the financial loss as a reason for accepting the terms of a waiver.
What will the courts consider?
There are a few things the courts will consider in a claim for injury where a waiver was signed.
- Did the waiver use clear language that is easy to understand by the person signing
- Did the participant read and understand the waiver they signed
- Was the person who signed the waiver given time to consider the release or were they rushed or pressured
- Did the employee or business owner point out parts of the waiver that were especially important
- Did they offer an opportunity to answer any questions or concerns the participant may have about the document
Conditions that may permit you to sue for negligence
Even though you have signed a waiver there is still some obligation on the business and its employees to ensure your safety. It is always best to talk to a lawyer anytime you have sustained any injury after signing a waiver. Do not just assume you are not entitled to compensation. Courts may overturn waivers if you can prove a business was:
- Grossly negligent or have a blatant disregard for safety
- Misrepresented a service or activity
- Had a defective product
Interesting Fact – Minors are usually not bound by waivers. So, if your child is injured even though Mom or Dad signed a waiver, you may still be able to sue for the injury sustained.
Wishart Brain and Spine Law have been successful in obtaining compensation for people that have signed waivers and sustained traumatic injury while participating in recreational activities. If you have been injured and have questions about whether you can pursue a claim, we can help. Your first consultation is always free. It will cost you nothing to ask a few questions about your situation that could make all the difference to you and your family’s future.