Does a Liability Waiver Sign Away Your Rights?
When signing up for a new gym, joining in a dangerous sport, enrolling in a school, or even getting a new job, you may be faced with a liability waiver. Most people happily sign, assuming that they won’t get hurt anyway, so the waiver won’t have an impact on their life. However, after suffering an injury due to negligence, you may find yourself in a position where you are unsure of whether or not you can legally file a claim. Well, Grant Law Office may have the answer you are looking for.
What Is a Liability Waiver?
A waiver, sometimes known as a liability release form, is essentially meant to release the other party from any liability in the case that you are hurt. Most often, you will be asked to sign one when entering potentially dangerous property, or property that you will be on for an extensive period of time, which raises the chance that you will be injured on said property.
For example, a gym usually has very heavy equipment that could easily lead to severe injuries in the case that something is misused or dropped. Or you may be asked to sign one when you start a new job. You will likely be spending a lot of time at the office, meaning that there is a strong possibility that you will become injured at some point during the course of your employment. Ultimately, the goal is to avoid having to pay a settlement if someone becomes injured. While these waivers do release the property owner from some liability, they are not full-proof.
Waivers and Premises Liability Claims
A waiver will likely list the general injuries and accidents that a property owner cannot be considered liable for. These injuries and accidents usually pertain to the most common risks related to the property or activity you are trying to participate in. If you go to an amusement park, for example, you may be asked to sign a waiver that stipulates that you are aware of the danger of a heart attack on particular rides. In such a case, if you then got on to one of the faster rides, and thus suffered a heart attack, the park would not be liable, given that the waiver you signed made it clear that a heart attack was possible.
However, waives typically only cover standard injuries or inherent risks. If a rollercoaster derails or an occupant is ejected due to faulty safety equipment, then the amusement park could be to blame if you suffer a serious injury, such as broken bones, spinal cord damage, and brain injuries. To receive compensation for such injuries, you will need to show that the rollercoaster was defective or dangerous outside of the waiver, such as the rollercoaster’s beams not being inspected, serviced, or replaced for years, leading them to rust and weaken. In such a circumstance, the amusement park would most certainly be considered liable for your injuries, whether or not you signed a waiver.
Filing a Claim
Ultimately, the most important question to ask is whether or not there was gross negligence involved in the accident. Property and company owners have a duty of care towards their visitors and patrons. This means that they are expected to keep them reasonably safe. Someone suffering a heart attack while on a thrilling ride is impossible to really guard against, and so any reasonable park owner cannot be held liable for them.
However, it is never reasonable for a fast and dangerous coaster to be allowed to break down, causing injury to dozens of people. In that example, it would be considered gross negligence on the park owner’s part to not make sure that the coaster was properly inspected several times a year.
That being said, the company that made you sign the waiver is unlikely to just accept defeat. No company wants to pay out settlements, as that hurts their profit margins. It is very likely that the at-fault company and their insurance provider will do everything they can to fall back on their waiver and deny liability, even if they know they are at fault. Some ways that liability can be argued on your behalf include:
The waiver did not warn you of all possible risks: In the amusement park example, the waiver notified you of the risk of a heart attack. That allowed you to make an informed decision about which rides you were going to get on, and which ones you would avoid. However, it did not warn you of the risk of broken tracks, which means you were not able to make an informed choice. If you had been warned, it is likely you wouldn’t have stayed at the park, much less gotten on the ride. In such a situation, the waiver would not legally bar you from filing a claim.
It was signed by a minor: Anyone under the age of 18 cannot give their consent when it comes to contracts, waivers, and other legal documents. If your child signed the waiver instead of you, then it would not be considered legally valid.
The waiver was unclear or deceptive: A waiver must have specific language to be considered valid, which is why most will stipulate exactly what accidents they can’t be held liable for. If a waiver is too vague, or written a purposefully deceitful way, then it may not be considered a legally valid document.
What ever the circumstances around your accident may be, if your injuries were caused by gross negligence, then chances are you are in a position to file a claim, waiver or not. But the liable party will certainly try to fight you and do everything they can to deny any possible liability. When that happens, you need to contact a skilled Atlanta premises liability attorney who can go to bat for you and your case.
At Grant Law Office, our legal team have extensive experience advocating for injured clients and thoroughly understand Georgia laws surrounding liability. If a negligent property owner cased your injuries, we can outline your best options to recover compensation. For excellent legal help, call Grant Law Office at (404) 995-3955 right away.
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