Personal Injury And Waiver Of Liability: What Are You Signing Away?

Most people aren't familiar with law, much less the in-depth knowledge needed to understand and implement it. How then, are you suppose to be expected to sign a legal waiver at various times, and what does it mean when you do? The answer may be much more complicated than you realize.  

What Exactly Is A Waiver?

While the specific language of a legal waiver may differ, in general, it is a document which states that the person signing it waives their right to legally hold another party accountable for potential damages, injury or even death. Despite sounding simple, the legal forces behind these documents are very powerful. For example, signing one may be a forfeiture of important constitutional rights, such as your Seventh Amendment rights.

When Might You Be Asked To Sign One?

Many public events, such as auto racing, professional sports and other recreational activities mandate the signing of a release from responsibility prior to entry. Children's groups and functions also frequently require parental signatures in order for kids to participate. Often, your waiver of liability is printed right on your ticket of entry, meaning that as the bearer and user of that ticket, you waive liability simply by entering the grounds, arena or stadium promoting the event.

Should A Waiver Raise A Red Flag?

You could be attending a local festival with your family, when your children spot the bouncy house in all its colorful and enticing glory. However, before you can let your kids climb in, someone holds a waiver in front of your face, insisting that you sign it. This naturally causes unease in many, and it should certainly get you thinking. Unless you know the laws of your state well, you may not know exactly what you're signing.

Moreover, exercising your own personal judgement, by assessing the quality of supervision provided and perceived mechanical functionality of the equipment involved is needed. While waivers are common, they shouldn't automatically raise a red flag, but you do need to realize why they are required and what the ramifications of your signature are.

How Do Personal Injury Lawyers View Waivers Of Liability?

A court of law examining a waiver is much different than you giving it a quick glance at a ski resort. It may be difficult for you to ascertain how concise the document is, but according to the rules, it must be very clear and easily legible. Most often only discoverable after an incident involving injury, loss or death, a lawyer can decipher if the document contains any fraudulent information.

Waivers also don't mean a party is completely free of responsibility, particularly if extreme or gross negligence was involved. Determining the level of negligence, though, depends on many factors, including local legislation. Therefore, it's imperative that you are aware of what you're signing and have it professionally evaluated in the event that something negative happens.

Signing a liability waiver should not be taken lightly, despite the frequency with which you may be asked to do so. Know what you are putting your name to, who is actually responsible and how much you can trust them, if possible, and definitely know who can help you sort out the legalities if the unthinkable occurs. When in doubt, though, walk away every time. For more information about the local laws that may apply to waivers in your area, contact a local firm such as Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC.