Read The Fine Print: What You Need To Know About Liability Waivers

With so many different types of contracts in the world today, one can get overwhelmed trying to understand exactly what they’re reading. Apartment leases, service contracts, non-disclosures; all of these things add up to a lot of words that sometimes mean very little, but at other times mean a great deal.

Types Of Liability Waivers

People joke about “signing their life away” when it comes to getting a mortgage on a home, or purchasing a brand new car. When it comes to signing liability waivers, however, the joke isn’t so funny. Liability waivers exist to protect a person, a company, or a group who is providing a service. These waivers take responsibility for accidents and injuries away from the person or facility where an activity is taking place. In other words, the person signing is “waiving” their right to sue should an injury occur.

They are sometimes referred to as a “not responsible for accidents waiver” or another name such as:

• Release of liability
• Waiver of rights
• Waiver of liability
• Exculpatory agreement
• Assumption of risk

Places Where Liability Waivers Are Used

Most people are used to signing this type of a waiver before a medical procedure, but there are other places where waivers like this are becoming more prominent. Common activities where waivers can be administered include:

• Sporting events
• Student field trips
• Participation in recreational sports
• Fitness classes, including low-impact activities such as Yoga and swimming
• Concerts and theatrical performances
• Volunteer activities

If you participate in high-risk activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, surfing, or even horseback riding, you’ll likely be asked to sign a liability waiver. These activities carry a risk of injury to participants, and the activity providers expect participants to understand that risk. Signing the waiver protects the providers, but unfortunately, these waivers have fine print that can protect them even if their negligence causes the injury.

Defining Negligence And Validity Of Waivers

There are two types of negligence that can occur in a situation that causes injuries.

  • Ordinary negligence can be caused unintentionally if the property owner or service provider is unaware that there is an unsafe condition present. It can also occur due to broken equipment, an unsafe environment, or a failure for the provider to “act as a reasonably prudent professional.”

  • Gross negligence is a complete disregard for the safety of others. This happens when a property owner or service provider has full knowledge that a potentially dangerous event could occur but takes no steps to prevent it from happening.

Under Florida law, these waivers are enforceable as long as they meet certain criteria. Waivers must be:

  • Clear – language in the waiver must be clear enough that the signer understands the rights they are giving up.

  • Unambiguous – the waiver must state its terms clearly.

  • Unequivocal – the waiver cannot allow ways to get around the terms listed. A valid waiver must apply to the specific situation for which it is being signed.

  • Specific – the language in the waiver must specifically limit liability and reflect the terms agreed upon.

Intentional Conduct And Recklessness

It might seem as though signing a liability waiver puts your life into the hands of others with no legal recourse should a worst-case-scenario occur. In Florida, waivers of liability cannot be used to waive the right to assert claims for personal injury related to intentional conduct such as assault, battery, fraud, reckless conduct, or willful conduct leading to injury. You might not be able to bring about a claim if you bump into a wall in the house of mirrors at an amusement park, but you can bring about a claim if the mirrors are broken and cracked, causing a jagged edge to cut open your hand.

We’ll Fight For Your Rights

If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, even if a waiver has been signed, you’re not at a loss. Negligence is one of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits, and the courts take it very seriously. A personal injury lawyer can help you go over the fine print, sort out the details, and determine if you have a case. Contact our offices today to discuss your situation..