When you leave the house for some fun, you might choose to hit the gym, attend a baseball game, or try out a paintball course. These activities can be a blast, but if you get hurt at any of these locations you might find that you’ve signed away your rights to seek help without knowing it.
Waiver forms are a part of everyday life in California these days. A waiver of liability may be part of a gym contract or a soccer match ticket purchase. You may pass it over without thinking, but it could become very important if you get injured on someone else’s property.
What Is the Waiver of Liability in California?
A waiver of liability is a legal agreement that property and business owners use to try to limit their responsibility for injuries their customers or visitors suffer.
These “exculpatory clauses” or “disclaimers” are usually part of a contract you sign while purchasing a ticket for an activity or signing up for the activity. You don’t necessarily have to acknowledge or sign a waiver clause for it to apply to a potential injury.
Even when official waivers are not attached to a contract, property owners and proprietors can still enjoy protection from lawsuits. They can be shielded under the legal doctrine of “assumption of risk.”
Assumption of risk asserts that your activity carried with it known risks that you voluntarily accepted, making it more difficult to file a lawsuit against a property or business owner when you get hurt.
Does Signing a Waiver Form Remove Your Right to Sue?
Getting hurt after you’ve signed a waiver makes it more difficult to file a lawsuit. However, the bad behavior of the owner or organizer can also remove that barrier keeping you from earning compensation.
California Law can often swing to the side of the victim if an owner exhibits reckless behavior that goes beyond what a waiver form is designed to cover.
Your personal injury attorney has many ways to poke holes in a waiver form’s protection:
- Gross Negligence – The hazard that left you injured may be proof of behavior that was grossly negligent on the part of the organizers and operators. This is an action that shows reckless disregard for the safety of others. They may have also ignored a dangerous issue brought to their attention, simply to save money. It’s an egregious act that can topple a waiver form’s protection.
- Not Covered By Assumption of Risk — You may have been injured by an obstacle that is well out of the realm of what the waiver form was intended to cover. You could have been injured by an accidental gas explosion at a ball game that had nothing to do with the dangers of the game itself. Activities can carry risks, but sometimes people get injured by circumstances that have nothing to do with the main event. Your personal injury attorney would make this a focal point of your argument.
- Acknowledgment of a Waiver of Liability — Waivers can be hidden in sales agreements or the “fine print,” or never presented to you at all. Victims should be aware of the rights they are signing away when they pay for tickets or sign a lengthy contract. When a waiver is almost hidden from the public it can be harder to uphold when you challenge it in court.
- Unlawful Acts — The individual or entity may have broken the law when they caused you to suffer an injury. Their actions may have been malicious. They would usually be liable for any injuries their violation caused no matter what was listed on a waiver form.
Children and Waiver Forms
California does permit minors, children under 18 years old, to sign waiver forms so they can participate in events. The stipulation is that a parent or legal guardian must also sign.
Children are allowed to enter into these waiver agreements, but the inclusion of a child can weaken the protection a waiver provides. A business or property owner could be found guilty of endangering a minor depending on the type of accident the child suffered. Local and state laws protecting children may negate the shield a waiver provides to owners against lawsuits.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in California
If you or a loved one are hurt at someone else’s business or on their property, you should speak to a California Personal Injury Lawyer. Waiver of Liability agreements make securing support while you recover from injury more difficult, but a skilled personal injury attorney can alert you to all of the benefits available to you and your family. If a lawsuit is your best course of action, we will stand by your side and take a business owner all the way to court if necessary.
To find out if your injury case goes beyond the normal “assumption of risk” and can earn you compensation, contact Maison Law for a free case consultation. We want you to earn the compensation you need to make a full recovery and rebuild your life.