Many businesses and organizations ask patrons to sign a liability waiver before participating in an activity or using their equipment. Businesses use these documents to attempt to shield themselves from liability and avoid being sued if a person is injured or killed while taking part in an activity.
While you may be led to believe you have given away your right to sue by signing a waiver, there are some circumstances when you may still have legal options if you suffered an injury due to negligence.
Call our personal injury lawyers in Fort Worth to discuss your claim and see how we may be able to help you. There are no upfront fees and we do not charge you anything unless we win.
What is a Liability Waiver?
A liability waiver is a legal contract between two parties, usually a business and a patron participating in a business-related event. Liability waivers grant one party immunity from paying damages if the party that signed the document gets injured or killed while participating in an event or using company equipment.
Liability waivers are often used by companies whose patrons participate in inherently dangerous activities, such as:
- Rock climbing
- Fitness centers
- Indoor trampoline parks
- And more
Schools and youth organizations are also known to use liability waivers for children who participate in off-campus field trips or sporting events.
Who Can Sign a Liability Waiver?
Since liability waivers are typically used as an agreement to not pursue legal action against a business or organization, anyone who signs the legal document must do so of their own free will and must be of sound mind at the time of signing. This means that the party wishing to be granted immunity from liability for injury or death cannot manipulate someone into signing a waiver or get the person to sign the waiver under false pretenses.
Because waivers are also used by schools, daycares and other businesses and organizations that cater to minors, a parent or legal guardian may sign a liability waiver on behalf of the child to release an organization from liability for any economic damages, such as medical bills, should the child get hurt.
When Are Waivers Enforceable in Texas?
Under Texas law, a liability waiver must be express and conspicuous. This means that the waiver must expressly state that the person who signs the contract is releasing a specific business or organization from any claims for negligence and that the waiver of liability agreement may not be hidden in the text of another contract. Instead, the waiver must be clearly presented to the signer for what it is.
Most waivers are meant to simply waive liability for negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care and caution that an ordinary person in a similar situation would. However, Texas courts are split on whether liability waivers may also be enforceable when it comes to gross negligence, which is the deliberate and reckless disregard for the safety and reasonable treatment of others.
Some courts have said if the liability waiver specifies immunity for gross negligence, it is enforceable, but if there is no specification about gross negligence, it may not be enforced. However, courts have also said that because gross negligence is technically still negligence, a waiver releasing liability for negligence may also be enforced.
The Texas Supreme Court has yet to rule on this, leaving a legal gray area when it comes to the enforceability of liability waivers for gross negligence. For example, liability may be unclear in a situation where a business is negligent in caring for equipment that breaks and causes an injury.
When Can I File a Lawsuit?
The question of when you can file a lawsuit for damages after signing a waiver of liability is something that should be discussed with an experienced lawyer. A lawyer can analyze the facts of your claim and advise what your legal options may be.
If the waiver you signed is enforceable by law, an attorney may not recommend filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries since you signed a waiver agreeing not to sue.
However, if an adult signed a waiver on behalf of a child, Texas courts have ruled that the child may still be able to collect compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering because a parent or legal guardian does not have the right to sign away a child’s legal right to pursue compensation.
So, while an adult may not bring suit for medical expenses or other economic damages on behalf of the child to collect the compensation themselves, a parent or legal guardian may be able to file a claim for non-economic damages on behalf of a child.
Let Us Review Your Claim. Call Today
Unfortunately, the law surrounding the use and enforceability of liability waivers is not as black and white as one would hope. Fortunately, our licensed attorneys at the law offices of Anderson & Cummings are here to help you determine your legal options if you signed a liability waiver.
We have a proven track record of success negotiating compensation for injury victims and are prepared to file a lawsuit. Our goal is to recover maximum compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.
Call today to schedule a free consultation: (817) 920-9000.