Liability waiver: Success with an injury claim in a liability waiver situation depends on several factors, beginning with the wording of the waiver itself. Sports and recreation facilities like go-kart tracks, bounce house venues, ropes courses, trampoline and water parks, gyms, and more require guests (and parents of minors) to sign liability waivers before participating in activities and adventures.

People sign because it’s required, and most do so without reading the waiver. In part as a result, most people assume they have signed away their rights to take legal action if they’re injured during their visit.

While waiver and liability release documents may be legally binding, they don’t cover everything that can go wrong.

It’s important not to make assumptions if you’re injured and consult with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney like Rome Clifford Katz & Koerner Partners Chris Sica, Alan Rome and Joe Serrantino.

Success with an injury claim in a liability waiver situation depends on several factors, beginning with the wording of the waiver itself.

Signing a liability waiver means accepting that the activity/adventure on the agenda includes “inherent risks, dangers, and hazards,” that participating is voluntarily, and that the person signing the waiver understands those risks and acknowledges they could result in injuries, illnesses, and even death.

That covers a lot of what can go wrong – but not everything.

Two things are important to keep in mind for those who have been injured or worry about what legal rights they’re giving up by signing a waiver:

  • The risks, dangers, and hazards covered in a liability waiver are typically confined to adverse occurrences that may arise from a specific activity. For example, a legal action against a canoe tour company by someone injured after flipping the boat in rough water would not likely be successful – but the canoe company may well be liable for a slip-and-fall caused by dangerous conditions in a changing room.
  • Courts have sided with plaintiffs in cases that show gross negligence on the part of a recreation or sports facility or program, which can involve faulty equipment, faulty conditions, a lack of proper instruction, and more.

A New York State man, for example, recently secured a $9 million verdict against a Connecticut water park after he seriously and deeply cut his foot and ankle when he fell in the water while trying to jump from one floating foam disk to another as part of the lily pads feature.

A news story said attorneys theorized he was injured by a subsurface system of chains anchoring the lily pads, and as part of the case, it was determined the support chains were improperly installed and lacked the proper plastic sheath coverings.

Some sports and recreation venues have liability waivers that attempt to cover all possible reasons for an injury, such as a kayaking and canoe tour venture in New York State whose waiver says the risks and dangers being accepted by the guests signing waivers “may be caused by the gross or actual negligence of the owners, employees, officers, or agents … ,” in addition to “the negligence of the participants, the negligence of others, accidents, breaches of contract, the forces of nature or other causes.”

However, the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled in past cases that waivers cannot shield a sports or recreation facility from liability for its own negligent actions. In other words, injuries that result from things that fall within the control and management of a facility – including actions, or lack of proper and required actions, by the facility, its owners, agents, or employees – amount to negligence on the part of a recreational facility that cannot be overcome by a signed waiver.

In rejecting a winter sports facility’s argument that its waiver removed liability for injuries that could be shown to have been caused by the facility’s negligence, Connecticut’s high court empowered injured parties to pursue fair and appropriate redress and compensation for injuries sustained because of the inherent risks, dangers, and hazards of a particular activity.

If you have been injured after signing a liability waiver, call the highly experienced Personal Injury team of Rome Clifford Katz & Koerner at (860) 232-3000 to arrange a free consultation to determine the merits of your case and the best path forward – or reach out to Attorney Sica by email at csica@rckklaw.com, Attorney Serrantino at jserrantino@rckklaw.com, and Attorney Rome atarome@rckklaw.com.

About RCKK Law

Rome, Clifford Katz & Koerner is a Hartford-based law firm whose attorneys collectively have more than 100 years of experience in a wide variety of legal areas. Whether you are dealing with a motor vehicle accident, a Workers’ Compensation injury, a Family Law matter, or a business concern, our skilled lawyers will aggressively advocate on your behalf. We represent individuals and businesses in Connecticut and throughout the New England states. Contact the firm at 860-232-3000.