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Can You Sue After Signing a Liability Waiver? 

Premises Liability Lawyer

Many businesses and medical facilities require customers to sign a liability waiver before undertaking an activity or procedure that involves a risk of harm to the customer. The purpose of these waivers is to inform the customer of the inherent risks involved in the activity or procedure and to relieve the business or medical facility of liability for any injuries that might be suffered in the course of the activity or procedure. In other words, the waiver seeks to establish that the customer has “assumed the risk” of injury from the activity or procedure and has agreed not to sue for personal injury. Liability waivers typically cover ordinary negligence and the inherent risks of the activity or procedure. The most common events that require customers to sign a liability waiver are sporting events, skydiving, bungee jumping, skiing, and animal rides.

However, as a premises liability lawyer can explain, if you’ve signed a liability waiver and were subsequently injured, you may still be able to sue for your injuries. A liability waiver does not always preclude an injured customer from taking legal action to compensate themselves for their injuries. There are several scenarios in which the waiver might be invalid. 

When Will a Liability Waiver be Invalid? 

Because a liability waiver is a contract between the customer and business, it must comply with the legal requirements for a valid contract. If it does not, it will be invalid and unenforceable. For instance, if the language of the waiver is ambiguous, vague, or difficult to understand, it may be invalid, meaning an injured customer may sue for any personal injuries they suffered despite signing the waiver. 

A liability waiver may also be invalid if a third party who is not protected by the waiver caused the customer’s injuries. For example, the customer might sue the manufacturer of a product that injured them rather than the business that provided them with the product or the service involving the product. Further, if the customer’s injury is caused by a risk that is either not included in the liability waiver or that is not explained clearly and specifically in the waiver, they will be able to sue for their injuries. 

Gross Negligence

Other scenarios where a liability waiver will be unenforceable are where the waiver was signed by a minor, where the waiver violates state law or public policy, where the business or medical facility had unequal bargaining power compared to the customer, and where the business or medical facility providing the service or procedure engaged in gross negligence. A person acts with gross negligence if their conduct constitutes a reckless disregard for the safety of others. A court will consider whether the business or medical facility should have been prepared for the act of gross negligence that occurred, but was not. 

Additionally, an injured customer might be able to sue despite signing a liability waiver if their injuries are particularly severe. In that instance, a court might find that the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries requires that they be compensated for the harm they have suffered.

Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight on liability waivers in personal injury cases.

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