Home Blog Personal Injury Understanding the Fine Print: Liability Waivers Explained

Understanding the Fine Print: Liability Waivers Explained

By Eugene Bruno on June 1, 2023

Chances are, you have signed a liability waiver. Likely, it was required to join a gym or participate in a sporting event. Liability waivers are commonly required for recreational activities, sports events, gyms, and certain businesses where the activity may potentially result in injury. A waiver prevents you from suing the other party in the event that you are hurt. You may have signed a waiver without fully understanding the legal importance of what you were signing.

What Is a Liability Waiver?

A liability waiver is a legally binding document that releases one party from liability for injuries caused to another party. If you’re going horseback riding or to the gym (among other things), you’ve likely signed a waiver that states the activity you are about to engage in is inherently dangerous and the business owner will not be responsible if you get hurt during that activity. By signing a liability waiver, you are agreeing not to sue the business if you are injured during that activity.

Are Liability Waivers Enforceable?

Liability waivers are more and more common, but whether they are always enforceable will depend on several factors. Not all liability waivers are enforceable and all of them are limited. Courts will generally scrutinize these agreements carefully, particularly if upholding the waiver means that an injured person may not be compensated for an injury. Some of the factors a court will typically consider when determining whether to enforce a liability waiver include:

Clear and Unambiguous Language: Was the waiver written in clear and easy-to-understand language, leaving no room for confusion or misinterpretation? Was the waiver obvious, or was it buried in a very long document or placed in a footnote in typeface so small it could not be easily read?

Voluntary: The waiver should be signed voluntarily and not under duress or coercion. However, keep in mind that most times, you will be required to sign a waiver in order to participate in the activity.

Public Policy Considerations: Some jurisdictions may not enforce waivers if they are deemed against public policy. In other words, the business can attempt to shield themselves from liability for ordinary negligence, but the law will not allow businesses to avoid liability for gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.

Limited Waiver Means Some Protection for You

Liability waivers are not an absolute shield against all types of claims you may bring if you’re injured. While they provide some protection to the business, they do not cover allow businesses to hurt people through:

Gross Negligence, Recklessness and Willful Misconduct: Most waivers do not require you to waive claims based on acts of gross negligence, recklessness or intentional harm.

Statutory Protections: Some laws may restrict or prohibit the enforcement of waivers for certain types of injuries or activities.

Minors and Guardians: Special rules may apply when minors are involved. In some cases, minors may not be able to waive their rights, or their parents or guardians may need to sign on their behalf.

How a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Liability waivers are common legal instruments used to protect organizations and individuals from potential lawsuits. However, their enforceability can depend on various factors, and they are not a foolproof defense against all claims. If you have suffered an injury and signed a liability waiver, it’s important to consult with a San Diego injury lawyer who can explain your rights and options. Our experienced San Diego personal injury attorneys at Bruno & Associates can assess the circumstances of your case, review your waiver’s validity, and help you navigate the legal process. Understanding your rights and the potential limitations of waivers is crucial to ensuring fair compensation. Call Eugene Bruno & Associates at (619) 209-6066 for a free case evaluation.

Posted in: Personal Injury