How Solid Is A "No Sue" Clause?

One of the things that many leisure seekers notice in the 21st century is the abundance of contracts and waivers that some recreational activities require people to sign. The fact that these are documents, with your signature on them does indicate that you are, in some fashion, signing a contract. And in many cases, that contract will stand up in court as evidence of a legal document.

The Waiver

Most of the time, these waivers and contracts are in place to protect companies from some kind of legal abuse through a lawsuit. For example, “extreme sports” such as bungee jumping, involve people jumping off bridges and other great heights. They rely on what amounts to a giant rubber band to prevent them from lethal impact, and this is obviously a high risk activity.

It’s normal for companies that run bungee jumping centers—or other activities like sky diving—to include conditions in the document stating that the people who sign understand that there is a much higher level of risk involved in such activities compared to something like riding an attraction in an amusement park. A person who signs such a document is essentially agreeing that he or she is aware of the high level of risk and the distinct possibility of an injury and thus agrees not to sue the vendor or proprietor in the event that something should go wrong.

Normal Accidents

Under normal circumstances, if an accident does occur in such a situation, and it is not the fault of the proprietor, chances are that the waiver that was signed will be legally binding. For example, if someone goes bungee jumping, signs the waiver and then, because he or she is drunk, deliberately ignores safety advice, or tries to “show off” by wrapping the bungee cord around his or her neck, that is not the fault of the company if an injury results. This is especially true if video footage can be produced with the company warning the person not to do it, and other people also shouting not to do it, but the person does it anyway.

In instances like this, it’s clear that the person was ignoring safety rules and regulations. And so, even if it was just “fooling around,” the company cannot be held responsible. The signed waiver would reinforce that.

Overriding The Waiver

On the other hand, if a company ignores basic legal requirements and negligence results in injury or even death, it’s certainly possible for that company to be taken to court, even with a signed waiver. For example, if, through some incredible series of careless circumstances, a skydiving company somehow gave a customer a parachute pack without a parachute in it, and that person plummeted to his or her death, that’s an extreme form of negligence.

Even if the victim had signed the waiver, nothing in the waiver would be likely to cover the skydiving company grossly failing to perform their most basic, legal responsibility of providing a parachute to someone that had paid for it. While that is an extreme example, the point still stands. A waiver is not an iron clad contract that prevents all further legal action from taking place. A personal injury attorney can help in this regard if you have any questions.