If you enjoy an active lifestyle, you have most likely signed a liability waiver at some point in your life. For example, if you have ever joined a gym, run a marathon, gone skydiving, or simply sent your children on a school field trip, the organization putting on the event or activity likely asked you to sign a few “papers” before you could partake. These waivers or releases are written and designed to protect the entity from legal liability for the participant’s injuries even when these injuries are caused by the entity’s own negligence.
Most people sign these liability waivers without even reading them. Upon closer inspection, many liability waiver agreements include strong language and essentially declare: (1) the participant will freely assume all risks associated with the event, whether known or unknown, and (2) the participant will hold the organization harmless for any injuries or damages he or she suffers, even if those injuries arose from the negligence of the organization. Given this language, one might assume that they waived all rights to any personal injury claim. However, is this true? If a waiver is signed, are you precluded from recovering monetary damages from an injury that occurs during these activities or events?
The simple answer is no. Signing a waiver does not prevent you from recovering damages if an injury occurs. While the waiver may make recovery a bit more difficult, the enforceability of the waiver is a legal question left for the courts to decide. In fact, here in Arizona, assumption of risk is always a question for the jury at trial per the Arizona Constitution. Ultimately, for a liability waiver to be effective, the participant must “intentionally relinquish a known right,” and there are 3 questions the court must answer to decide if the waiver is enforceable:
1) Was the language used in the waiver clear and unambiguous?
2) Was the injury caused by, or the result of a reasonably related act that the waiver sought protection from?
3) Does the waiver or release violate public policy?
While the enforceability of a waiver releasing liability is contingent on a variety of factors, most of them, even if they weigh in favor of enforceability, will not necessarily preclude recovery. Because these aspects can be extremely difficult to comprehend, it is crucial to have any waivers releasing liability analyzed by an experienced attorney to determine if the injured party has a claim.
Contact Torgenson Law today if you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury as a result of another’s negligence. The legal process can be a complex one, and you will want an aggressive and experienced attorney fighting for the just compensation in which you deserve. Give us a call at 602-759-0012.
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