Liability waivers are common – you may have signed one before skydiving, attending a concert, or participating in another activity with inherent risks. By signing a waiver, you agree not to hold the company liable if you get injured or suffer damages. But what if negligence or misconduct caused your injuries? Can you still take legal action and sue even after signing away your right to do so?
The short answer is – it depends. Signing a waiver does not automatically prevent you from being able to sue in every scenario. There are certain situations where a signed liability waiver may be deemed invalid or unenforceable. An experienced personal injury attorney can help determine if you may still have grounds to pursue compensation through a lawsuit, regardless of having signed a waiver.
Key factors like ambiguity in the waiver language, violations of public policy, minors signing waivers, gross negligence by the company, and more may provide a legal basis to contest the waiver and allow you to move forward with a personal injury claim. But you should talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to assess your options properly.
This article will look in-depth at liability waivers – what they are when they may or may not protect against lawsuits, and how an attorney can advise if you can still potentially sue and recover damages even after signing one.
What Exactly is a Liability Waiver, and What Happens When You Sign One?
A liability waiver or release of liability is a legal document that a business or individual may ask you to sign before participating in an activity. By signing the waiver, you agree not to hold the other party responsible for any injuries or damages that may occur while participating in the activity.
Common examples include:
- Waivers for recreational activities like skiing, skydiving, or using a trampoline park
- Gym membership agreements
- Medical waivers for cosmetic procedures
- Liability waivers for event attendance like concerts or races
The intent is to release the business or individual from liability and prevent the signing party from being able to sue for personal injury or property damage. Waivers often specify that you assume all risks voluntarily.
Can You Still Sue for Personal Injury if You’ve Signed a Liability Waiver Relinquishing Your Right to Sue?
Signing a waiver does not necessarily prevent you from being able to sue. A liability waiver may be considered invalid or unenforceable in certain situations and circumstances.
Suppose you suffer injuries or damages due to negligence or recklessness on the part of the business/individual. In that case, you may still be able to pursue legal action even if you signed a waiver.
Situations Where You May Still Be Able to File a Lawsuit Even After Signing a Waiver
There are a few key situations where a signed waiver may not protect the business/individual from being sued:
- Gross negligence. The waiver may not be enforceable if injuries were caused by gross negligence, such as faulty equipment or intentional misconduct. The behavior has to go beyond ordinary negligence.
- Unconscionable waiver. The waiver may be ruled unenforceable if it is deemed unfair or contains unreasonable terms. This often depends on state laws.
- Minor signed. Waivers signed by minors are often not binding. Parents cannot sign away a minor’s legal rights on their behalf.
- Violates public policy. Any waiver that violates public policy or a statute will not be upheld. For example, waivers cannot protect against liability for intentional harm.
- Ambiguous wording. The waiver may not hold up in court if the language is unclear or contradictory. Any ambiguities are generally interpreted in favor of the signing party.
In such cases, a skilled personal injury attorney can help determine if you have grounds to pursue legal action, even if you signed a liability waiver before the incident.
Key Factors in Determining If a Liability Waiver is Enforceable or if You Can Still Pursue a Negligence Lawsuit
If you are injured and considering legal action, an experienced personal injury lawyer will review the liability waiver to assess if it is likely to be upheld. Some key factors include:
- Clarity of the waiver language – Is it unambiguous? Does it specifically state the associated risks and that you waive the right to sue?
- Your knowledge and understanding – Did you have sufficient time and opportunity to review and understand the waiver before signing?
- Public policy – Does the waiver violate any statutes or public policy?
- Scope of the waiver – Does it specifically cover the type of injuries or damages that occurred? Overly broad waivers may not be enforced.
- Negligence involved – Was there ordinary or gross negligence on the business/individual?
Even a well-written liability waiver needs to be reviewed in the specific context of the incident and applicable state laws. An attorney can advise if you may still have a case.
When Waivers May Be Deemed Invalid or Unenforceable – Exceptions to Giving Up Your Right to Sue
While liability waivers can be an effective risk management tool, they are not ironclad protections against lawsuits. Here are some examples of situations where a signed waiver may be deemed unenforceable:
- You are injured at a trampoline park due to faulty equipment. The waiver may not protect against product liability claims.
- A medical waiver you signed did not specify the exact procedures performed. If negligence occurs, the waiver may not offer protection.
- You are injured at a theme park due to gross negligence or misconduct of a park employee. The waiver likely does not cover intentional or reckless behavior.
- The waiver uses overly broad, ambiguous language that does not clarify the risks. A court may rule it is unenforceable.
- You signed the waiver as a minor without a parent/guardian signature. Minors cannot legally waive their rights.
- The business violated safety regulations, which led to your injury. Waivers do not supersede laws.
Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation on Your Case if You Signed a Waiver But Got Hurt
If you suffered injuries or damages related to another party’s negligence, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney regarding your options.
A knowledgeable lawyer can analyze the liability waiver, evaluate the specifics of your case, and advise you on the best course of action. They will determine if you have sufficient grounds to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, even if you signed a waiver.
Key reasons to contact a personal injury attorney include:
- They can assess if the waiver will likely be upheld or if you can successfully contest it.
- They can collect and preserve evidence to build your case.
- They can negotiate with insurance companies and handle the litigation process.
- They can determine all liable parties and ensure you receive full and fair compensation.
- They work on a contingency fee basis, so you pay no upfront legal fees.
Do not assume you cannot take legal action just because you signed a waiver. Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your situation.
The Bottom Line: Key Takeaways on Liability Waivers and Your Ability to Sue for Damages
- Liability waivers aim to release a party from responsibility for injuries/damages. However, they do not automatically prevent you from suing in every scenario.
- If negligence or misconduct caused your injuries, you may be able to pursue a claim even if you signed a waiver.
- Factors like ambiguity, public policy, minors, gross negligence, or product liability may invalidate the waiver.
- Consult an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if you can file a lawsuit seeking damages, regardless of signing a waiver.
- Do not rely solely on the waiver to prevent legal action. Injury law firms like Onward Injury Law can best advise if you have a potential personal injury case.
Liability waivers provide useful protection against lawsuits. But it is still possible to sue and recover damages if you have grounds to contest the waiver.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I still sue if I signed a liability waiver in California and got hurt?
Even if you’ve signed a liability waiver in California, you may still be able to sue if you’ve been injured due to gross negligence. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help determine if you can still file a personal injury lawsuit.
Can I sue if I signed a waiver but was injured by negligence?
Signing a waiver does not necessarily mean the end of the story. Suppose you’ve suffered harm due to intentional or egregious negligence. In that case, you may still have legal options to file a personal injury claim and seek damages, even if you’ve signed a release of liability.
When can I sue despite signing a liability waiver?
A waiver may be invalid or unenforceable if a minor signed it, violates public policy, or if the level of risk involved was not unambiguous. In these cases, you may still be able to sue, and a skilled personal injury lawyer can review your waiver to see if you can still file a lawsuit.
Can I file a lawsuit if I get hurt after signing a waiver?
Even if you signed a liability waiver prior, you may still be able to file a personal injury case if you were hurt due to gross negligence. Consult an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options.
Does a signed waiver prevent me from filing an injury claim?
A liability waiver is a legal document meant to relinquish your right to sue, but it may be invalid if the waiver does not hold up in court. Discuss your signed waiver with a personal injury lawyer to see if you can still file an injury claim.