From renting jet skis to going bungee jumping, there’s no shortage of exhilarating activities that you can do in the state of California. Before you can partake in virtually any of them, though, you must sign a liability waiver.
These agreements, which generally include some variation of the phrase “not responsible for accidents” essentially waive the company that’s hosting the activity of liability in the event that a participant gets hurt. It’s a common misconception, however, that they waive them of all liability.
Put another way, if you were injured during a recreational activity for which you signed a waiver, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re prohibited from taking legal action. Before you proceed, though, there are a few things you should know. Read on to learn what they are.
1. When Is a Liability Waiver Actually Enforceable?
In 2007, the California Supreme Court ruled waivers shouldn’t release establishments from liability for gross negligence. The Court said that agreements prohibiting lawsuits by victims of gross negligence violate public policy. That means if you were hurt because of “gross negligence,” you can likely still sue for damages despite having signed a waiver.
2. What Constitutes Gross Negligence?
Differentiating between ordinary negligence and gross negligence can pose a challenge. According to the California Supreme Court, ordinary negligence is an unintentional tort that consists of a failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care. Gross negligence, on the other hand, is an “extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct.”
As for whether the waiver as a whole will actually be enforceable, it must meet the following standards to hold up in court:
- The waiver must clearly explain what activities it covers and the risks of those activities.
- The waiver must explicitly state the rights the signer is waiving.
- The injuries and causes of action covered by the waiver must be related to the activities described in the document.
- Liability waivers must be clearly identifiable and not hidden within other documents a participant must sign.
- The print size of the waiver must be easily readable.
3. How Do You Prove Gross Negligence So You Can Bypass the Terms of a Liability Waiver?
When putting together your claim, the most compelling evidence will naturally come down to the circumstances surrounding the accident in which you were hurt. Generally speaking, though, it will probably include some combination of the following:
- Eyewitness testimony,
- Surveillance footage,
- Maintenance logs,
- Standard operating procedures,
- Training manuals,
- Photographs of the scene, and
- Statements from relevant experts.
4. What If You Refuse to Sign a Liability Waiver?
You have every right to refuse to sign a liability waiver. Businesses are allowed to refuse service, however, if you opt not to sign one.
Discuss Your Case with a Personal Injury Attorney in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Were you hurt in some kind of accident after signing a liability waiver? If you’re wondering whether you have grounds for legal action, turn to the Law Office of Michael D. Waks.
We’ll investigate the situation from all angles to help you determine how best to seek compensation for the damages you incur. Call (562) 206-1939 or submit our Contact Form to schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Long Beach.
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