Some recreational activities that people engage in require that the participant sign a waiver of liability. A waiver of liability is an agreement designed to protect the entity in charge of the activity from being sued if a participant is injured while participating in the activity. Not all waivers work as they are supposed to, and sometimes an injured participant may be able to seek compensation regardless of having signed a waiver.
Generally, waivers of liability are enforceable in Florida as long as the waiver meets certain legal standards, including that the waiver be clear as to the scope of the waiver, and use plain and understandable language. The circumstances under which the waiver is signed may also affect whether a court enforces the agreement.
Liability waivers are usually signed pre-injury. If a person is asked to sign a waiver of liability after he has already suffered an injury, it is usually in connection with a settlement for the injury. Before an injured person signs a waiver after the injuries have been sustained, he should speak to an experienced personal attorney to ensure that he is not giving up any important rights. Once a person accepts a settlement and signs a waiver, it is not generally possible to seek more compensation later based on the same facts.
Waivers cover risks that are foreseeable for the activity in which the person signing the waiver is participating. If the person is injured by a condition on a site at which the activity is taking place, but the condition is unrelated to the actual activity, the waiver of liability may not apply. For example, if a person gets injured by a damaged wall on a racing course while go-kart racing, he can argue that the risk of being injured by a damaged wall was not foreseeable in go-kart racing. It is important for the participant signing a waiver to read the terms of the waiver and ensure that he understands exactly what rights he is waiving.
Children participating in sports or other activities cannot waive liability on their own, and a parent is usually required to agree to and sign the agreement. Florida law allows parents to waive liability for injuries sustained by children only in certain circumstances. Parents can usually waive liability for school related activities, but the law limits the parents’ ability to waive their children’s rights when it comes to commercial activities.
A liability waiver does not absolve a person or entity of liability if the injuries were caused by intentional misconduct, or by reckless conduct. If the injuries are caused by the intentional or reckless conduct of an employee, the employer may still be liable for the employee’s conduct.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you were injured after participating in a sport or other recreational activity after signing a liability waiver, you may still have grounds for seeking compensation from the person or organization that organized the event. Before you give up on a potential claim, call us at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.