Recreational accidents occur in an almost endless variety of circumstances. Defendants range from ATV drivers and drunk boaters to school districts, resort owners, and municipalities. Determining whether you have a case and who it would be filed against is a complex and confusing process. The Bakersfield recreational accident attorneys of Rodriguez & Associates can help, contact us today to learn more. We have handled dozens of injury cases involving:
- Swimming pools
- Sports such as golfing, football, and softball
A waiver is a form of the contract meant to release one party from legal obligations to another should certain situations arise. An example would be a sports liability waiver, in which the signer agrees not to sue the issuer for an injury that falls within certain bounds. In order for a waiver to protect a party from a lawsuit after an injury, it must be constructed carefully, and the circumstances must align with the waiver’s wording.
How Do Waivers Work?
Waivers absolve a party of any liability for injury to another. The likelihood of a liability waiver being enforced and how strictly enforced it will largely depend on state law. In California, there are strict standards for enforcing liability waivers. A detailed and well-written waiver, properly administered, and willingly signed by an adult will often protect the issuer from any legal backlash that may result from a sports injury or recreational accident.
Typically, a waiver applies only if the injury in question arose from specifically stated risks listed in the waiver. Many waivers use language that tries to cover a broad spectrum of possibilities rather than numerous specific examples. However, the more ambiguous the waiver’s wording, the less likely a court will uphold it.
Sports liability waivers are beholden to organizational standards. A waiver must be drafted according to the sports organization’s standards as well as California state law. The waiver’s contents must also adhere to state laws and public policies. If the waiver follows these standards and an adult voluntarily signs it, it is highly unlikely the court would toss the waiver, and the individual pursuing the case would likely lose. Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer for help.
Exceptions to the Rule
Waivers work as viable defenses against lawsuits only if they are legally and thoroughly constructed, properly administered, and signed willingly by an adult. The following situations may circumvent a waiver:
- Poor writing: Ambiguous wording that is open to multiple interpretations will more than likely be too vague to uphold in the eyes of most judges.
- Non-signing spouses: In some states, the non-signing spouse of the person who signed the waiver may be able to pursue litigation against the organization. In other states, this is not possible.
- Gross negligence: Broadly, negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care. Gross negligence is an extreme form of negligence that results from a failure to exercise even the most basic care. This may include reckless conduct, willfully dangerous actions, and some intentional acts.
- Minors: Waivers that minors sign are rarely enforceable. However, in California, a court is likely to uphold a parental waiver if it was drafted and administered properly, and an adult parent signed it willingly.
States Likely to Enforce Liability Waivers
Not Enforced: Louisiana, Montana, Virginia
Strict Standards: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin
Moderate Standards: Colorado, Washington D.C., Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia
Lenient Standards: Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee
* Puerto Rico and Rhode Island had insufficient information to classify. Source: Recreation Management
Assumption of Risk
Waivers function around the idea of “assumed risk.” That is, the people signing the waivers are fully aware of all the possible injuries they may suffer during their relationship with the organization; they understand these risks and wish to continue anyway. By doing so, they are releasing the organization of any liability for their injuries since they are aware of the risks ahead of time – assuming the risks associated with their relationship with the organization. Assumed risk is often a defense against negligence, but in waiver disputes, the waiver must contain language that specifically addresses assumed risk.
So, do waivers prevent injured parties from suing for injuries? The answer is that it depends. The waiver’s wording, circumstances surrounding the signing, and details of the injury will all play parts in the case. One of the best things you as an injured party can do is reach out to a reliable Bakersfield sports injury attorney to help guide you through the process. California has strict standards for waivers, and they are likely to be upheld as a viable defense, but only if they have been carefully constructed and fall within legal bounds. If you’ve experienced a sports injury, contact a Bakersfield sports injury lawyer at Rodriguez & Associates for a free consultation.