Liability waivers are legal documents, used when there are some risks associated with using a service or activity. The provider wants to avoid being sued if there’s an accident.
Think for example, of kids playing on sports team. Or high risk activities like bungee jumping or zip line rides. Or some school trips for your kids. These are all situations where providers ask you to sign a liability waiver to protect them if something happens to you or your child as a result of participation.
Whether you read all the small print or not, when you sign the waiver, you’re acknowledging that you’re aware of the risks of possible injury. This provides protection to the provider, if or when something happens. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? But it isn’t. There are different kinds of risks, and many different kinds of variables to be considered.
There are three kinds of situations to consider:
Liability waivers can also be explicit (in written format, like before going into surgery) or implied (like when a viewer gets hit by a rogue fly ball at a baseball game – there’s an implicit assumption that viewers are aware of the risks of attending a ball game.)
For example, in the summer of 1981 in Georgia, during extreme heat and humidity, a long distance runner collapsed, suffering multiple serious injuries. It was due to the intensity of the race combined with the severe weather conditions. The first time this case was heard in court (Williams v. Cox Enterprises Inc), the courts sided with the race organizers, since the runner had signed a liability waiver. The runner appealed. But the original decision was upheld on appeal, because the runner had knowingly signed the waiver, and admitted to being aware of the potential risks.
That’s why it helps, if there’s been an injury after you have signed a liability waiver, to have legal representation to sort out the complexities. If you have been injured, talk to a personal injury attorney to find out whether gross negligence or recklessness was a factor in your injury.