The Place Of A Waiver Of Liability In Wrongful Death Cases
Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2016 at 2:37 am
As summer approaches, parents will be signing up their children for various summer camps and other recreational activities. Most providers of sporting activities and recreational activities, including most summer camps, require participants to sign a waiver of liability. For minors, parents sign the waiver. The company requires this waiver in an attempt to limit its liability in the event of a tragic accident. The validity of waivers of liability rarely come into question unless someone is injured.
While we know we should read these waivers word for word, very few of us actually read the “fine print” and simply acknowledge that we understand we cannot sue the company if something goes terribly wrong. When you sign a waiver of liability, you may be giving up important legal rights. For example, some waivers include a clause that you give up your constitutional right to a jury trial. Unfortunately, you are in a difficult position because if you do not sign the waiver of liability, you and/or your child will not be permitted to participate in the activity. Therefore, most of us simply sign the waiver of liability after quickly skimming the waiver.
Can I Sue a Company if I Signed a Waiver of Liability?
In some cases, a waiver of liability may not be valid. Waivers of liability are generally considered a contract under California law and they are enforceable under contract law. However, these waivers may not always be enforceable in every situation. There are cases in which the injured victim was able to sue the at-fault party even though a waiver of liability was signed.
A waiver of liability or a release may be unenforceable in four situations:
Gross Negligence – In a 2007 case, the California Supreme Court held that the family of disabled girl who drowned at a summer camp could file a wrongful death lawsuit even though the mother signed a waiver of liability. The court held that in the case of gross negligence or recklessness, the waiver of liability did not protect the at-fault party from being sued.
Fraud and/or Misrepresentation – If you can prove that the company committed fraud or intentionally used false statement to induce you to sign the waiver of liability and/or participate in the activity, you may be entitled to sue the company even though you signed a waiver of liability.
Product Liability – Even a valid waiver of liability does not prevent you from filing a product liability claim in the event you were injured because of a defective product.
Illegal Format or Content – In order to be enforceable, waivers of liability and releases must be concise, clear, and easy to read and understand. They must contain certain information such as the parties being released and the parameters of the activity. If the release or wavier is too broad or violates California contract laws, the wavier of liability may be ruled void and unenforceable.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney for More Information
If you or your child has been injured while participating in a sport or recreational activity, contact our office for a free legal consultation. The attorneys of Tiemann Law Firm will review the waiver of liability to determine if you have a cause of action against the company, sponsors, staff, or other party.
You can contact us online, call (916) 999-9000, or chat with a representative on our website.