Do Liability Waivers Hold Up in Court in Personal Injury Cases?
Many businesses are aware of liability waivers, and a large percentage of them require their customers to sign waiver agreements prior to participating in an event or activity organized by the business.
In a nutshell, liability waivers are designed to protect businesses from lawsuits arising from certain injuries or death. But do those liability waivers hold up in court? Are injured customers barred from filing personal injury claims if they signed a liability waiver? The short answer is: Not always.
Not All Liability Waivers Are Valid
Many businesses in Florida, especially those that organize outdoor events and other activities that involve the risk of injury, use liability waivers to protect themselves from potential personal injury lawsuits even when clients sustain injuries due to the company’s negligent acts. Essentially, as the name implies, a customer who signs a liability waiver waives their right to sue the organization in the event of injury.
Thus, when someone signs a liability waiver and subsequently sustains an injury, they may think that the waiver will prevent them from filing a personal injury claim against the organization. However, it is not always the case. Not all liability waivers are valid, which is why it is advised to consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer to determine whether or not you can sue a company for your injury despite the fact that you signed a liability waiver.
What Makes a Liability Waiver Invalid?
If you signed a liability waiver, it does not necessarily mean that you actually waived your right to sue the organization whose negligence caused your injury. There has been enough case law to shed light on what constitutes a valid waiver of liability (most notably, Theis v. J & J Racing Promotions in 1990 and Gillette v. All Pro Sports, LLC in 2014).
Your lawyer will help you determine whether the liability waiver is valid or invalid by analyzing the following elements:
- Does the liability waiver contain clear and explicit language? Anyone signing a waiver of liability must understand the legal ramifications of placing their signature. Thus, if a waiver agreement uses language that an ordinary person would not understand, the waiver may be deemed invalid.
- Does the liability waiver clearly state the rights being waived? A business is required to clearly outline all rights that are being waived by the person signing the waiver agreement. It cannot simply include a general clause stating that the client is waiving all of their rights.
- Does the waiver meet all legal requirements to be deemed valid? A business must ensure that its liability waivers meet a plethora of legal requirements to be valid. Otherwise, an experienced lawyer will be able to challenge the validity of the waiver for it to be thrown out of court.
If a waiver agreement fails to meet the validity test, your attorney will help you file a personal injury claim against the organization to recover damages despite having signed a liability waiver.
Also, keep in mind that intentional torts are exempt from liability waivers in Florida. For this reason, if you sustained an injury due to a fraudulent, intentional, or willful act, the waiver would not protect the business from liability.
Schedule a consultation with our Winter Haven personal injury attorney at The Turnbull Firm to determine whether the liability waiver will hold up in court. Call at 863-324-3500 to receive a consultation.