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Premises Liability / 1.03.2020

Liability Waivers: Do You Really Just Sign Your Rights Away?

When you’re entering an amusement park, a rideshare vehicle, a concert, or any place like such, you’re probably aware that you have to sign the service provider’s liability waiver. A liability waiver, or release of liability, essentially works by taking the responsibility off of the service provider in the event that injuries are sustained.

If one of these situations does occur, it can leave you, the injured party, wondering if there is anything you can do despite having signed the waiver already. Do you have no options for pursuing compensation? The answer depends on several factors. Below, we explain more regarding what you need to know about liability waivers.

How Does a Liability Waiver Work?

When you sign a company or service provider’s liability waiver, more often than not, you are agreeing not to hold the company legally responsible for any injuries that are sustained due to ordinary negligence. This is one of two types of negligence that can play a role in cases involving liability waivers:

Ordinary Negligence

This refers to unsafe conditions that could arise even if a property owner or the service provider is attempting to maintain a safe environment and prevent injuries. Examples could include broken or malfunctioning equipment or poor advice. Many times, these dangers are unintentional.

Gross Negligence

This type of negligence refers to the willful disregard for the safety of a customer, participant, or person on the premises. With this, a company or provider is aware of a potential hazard but fails to take the steps necessary to:

1. Eliminate the problem,

2. Avoid potential risks, and

3. Protect those at the event or on the property.

Should You Sign the Waiver?

Many of us sign the papers and check the boxes before even knowing what it all means. So, before signing a liability waiver, there are some things you need to know first.

Firstly, it’s important to understand why a company would have you sign a waiver in the first place. There are two main reasons:

  1. Document in writing the potential risks and show that you are aware of them
  2. Remove their responsibility from injuries that could result from ordinary negligence (as we discussed above)

Secondly, you should always understand what you are agreeing to before signing any sort of document or liability waiver. It may sound like common sense, however, liability waivers are often presented at times where individuals may feel pressured to sign before they can enter a venue. This can lead people to potentially sign away their rights without reading or understanding the terms and conditions.

Thirdly, liability waivers can be found to be legally binding in Mississippi courts, especially if a waiver specifically has:

  • Clear language
  • Format
  • Precise lists
  • Signature
  • Legality

Can I Still Sue If I Signed a Liability Waiver?

If you’re injured after a signing a liability, you may be left wondering whether there is anything that can be done to pursue compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. While you can’t go back and erase your initial signature, there are a few factors that may mean that you can pursue damages, even after having signed a liability waiver.

Defective Products

If you were injured due to a defective product, such as the Philips CPAP machine, you may be able to sue the manufacturer for damages by filing a product liability lawsuit.

Gross Negligence

Even if you signed a waiver agreeing not to hold a company responsible for damages, a court may find that the company acted with gross negligence, such as recklessness or disregard for safety, which then resulted in your injuries.

Misrepresentation

The court may find that the liability waiver is not enforceable if the service or activity was misrepresented.

Unclear Language

If the waiver had phrases that were unclear or vague, it could mean that you could successfully sue for damages because the company did not explicitly express what they meant.

Unlawful Wording

The agreements formed through liability waivers must be lawful and adhere to applicable policies in terms of wording and context. This ensures that companies don’t just write anything they want in liability waivers and get a universal pass.

What Do You Do If You Signed a Waiver and Were Injured?

As mentioned above, there are instances where you may be able to sue if you are, unfortunately, injured after signing a liability waiver. The good news is that Mississippi courts generally disfavor provisions that release a company from liability when they acted with negligence. So, while each situation is dependent upon its own unique facts, liability waivers can be dissected to show that the company’s own negligence caused your injuries.

If this is ever the case for you, always make sure to take photos and document the details of how your injury occurred. Next, be sure to obtain legal representation immediately. The property owner may believe that he or she is off the hook for any medical bills, lost wages, and other damages you sustained. However, a liability waiver does not automatically prevent you from pursuing legal action and compensation for your injuries.

As the largest personal injury firm in Mississippi, Richard Schwartz & Associates Injury Lawyer has dealt with some of the most complex injury cases, including those where liability waivers are involved in the mix. Our legal of seasoned advocates will dissect each and every word within the liability waiver you signed to determine how to go about effectively pursuing your financial recovery.

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