Are you signing your life away when you sign a liability waiver? In order to participate in many activities, whether it’s joining a gym, skiing, or running in a road race, you typically must sign a waiver of liability. But if you’re injured, what recourse do you have? While waivers of liability are generally valid in New Jersey, there are some situations where the waiver will not be enforceable and you may have options to recover compensation from the commercial entity for your injuries.
What Is a Waiver of Liability?
When you sign a waiver of liability, you are agreeing to remove liability from the owner or operator of the business if an injury or damage occurs. For instance, by joining a gym, you are agreeing to not sue the gym owner or manager in the event you are injured while working out. Further, you are also agreeing to limit your legal rights in the event you cause damage to the property or equipment at the gym. Generally, there are few exceptions to this.
When Are Liability Waivers Not Enforceable?
Every state has different legal precedents and nuance to the law. In New Jersey, whether or not the waiver of liability is considered enforceable depends on the situation. The more detailed the waiver, especially those that get into the potential risks of the activity, the more likely it is to be valid. Shorter, vaguely written waivers that do not describe potential risks may open up possibilities of pursuing legal action.
If a child is injured, you may have grounds to pursue compensation. New Jersey courts will often allow cases to go forward where a child is injured, though there could be some limitations. This goes for scenarios in which a parent or legal guardian signed a waiver. If the child themselves signed, the waiver cannot be upheld because the child cannot legally sign away his or her rights and the commercial entity should have known that.
A waiver of liability cannot violate state law or public codes. A judge may also look at how the waiver affects the public interest. If it's negative, there is a possibility that the waiver would not be enforceable.
If your injury was the result of negligence, recklessness or an intent to harm, a court may find that the waiver does not shield the business from liability. Commercial businesses and organizations owe a certain threshold or ‘duty of care’ to patrons and must exercise that duty through proper safety protocols and procedures. If an employee acted or failed to act in accordance with safety measures or intentionally caused harm, you may have a solid legal case.
When pursuing a personal injury claim for which a pre-injury waiver or waiver of liability was signed, you must prove negligence. Courts have evolved over the years so that owners and operators have a high duty of care they must follow to protect patrons. If staff isn’t properly trained or the entity failed to inspect their property fully to remedy or warn patrons of any dangerous conditions or situations, you may be able to prove negligence and recover compensation for your injuries.
Filing a Lawsuit Even If You Signed a Waiver
If you’ve been injured at a recreational sport facility, gym, summer camp or other entity in which you signed a liability waiver to participate, you still may have legal recourse to recover compensation for your losses. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate the waiver and your case to advise you of your best options.
Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law and speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Our firm has an in-depth knowledge of personal injury laws, we have extensive experience in successfully representing a wide range of personal injury cases, including those with waivers of liability.
We pride ourselves in being able to provide clients with the passionate representation they deserve. We work on a contingency basis, which means you only owe legal fees if you win. Contact us today for a free consultation.