Can You Sue If You Signed a Liability Waiver?
You’ve almost inevitably signed a liability waiver at some time in your life. Whether for your child’s field trip, your gym membership, an all-terrain-vehicle tour, or some other activity, liability waivers are commonplace and are usually presented as a complete release of liability for a company, stipulating that you won’t be able to sue them for any injury or death sustained on their premises. As such, when people are injured in these activities, they usually assume that they’re completely out of luck when it comes to a personal injury claim for their suffering and loss. However, that isn’t always the case; surprisingly, you can oftentimes still sue, even if a liability waiver says you can’t.
What Liability Waivers Actually Do
At the most basic level, liability waivers alert individuals that certain activities may have notable dangers and risks associated with them and then go on to say that, by engaging in that activity, the individual signing the waiver agrees to take full responsibility for any injuries or damages they sustain, without blaming the organization providing the activity. This is usually done through carefully crafted language which furthermore tries to sever the liability of the company entirely, even if an injury is sustained through negligence or unforeseen risks.
Arizona’s liability waiver laws, however, paint a different picture. Contracts at a general level are recognizable and enforceable, but when it comes to releases of liability, it all comes down to the interpretation of the court, which always acts unfavorably towards the contract-holder. Even if a contract says otherwise, entities are usually expected to enact a duty of care. Liability waivers do not:
- Supersede public policy. A liability waiver can’t excuse an entity or individual of criminal negligence, nor can it violate common personal injury laws; contracts are only agreements, not legal loopholes.
- Forgive intentional misconduct. If the entity or individual protected by the liability waiver knowingly and intentionally harms someone, their waiver is null and void in that circumstance.
Waivers explicitly involve a participant surrendering specific rights that they are aware of, which is usually their right to sue in certain situations. Take indoor skydiving, for example; a waiver could specifically involve a participant surrendering their right to sue for any injuries caused by their own negligence and unwillingness to follow safety procedures and policies; if a participant then injured themselves because they failed to listen to instructions, they could not sue. However, if the participant was injured because of the company’s gross negligence in the maintenance of their machinery, they could potentially still sue for premises liability, even if the waiver specifically mentioned faulty machinery and poor maintenance.
Compensation for Waived Injuries in Arizona
Even barring cases of ignorant or wilful negligence, many injuries sustained after signing a liability waiver can still lead to a successful lawsuit; this comes down to the actual enforceability and reasonability of a liability waiver. Waivers must be clear, unambiguous, and specific. If the circumstances surrounding a personal injury are not reasonably covered by the waiver, it does not apply; similarly, if a waiver fails to warn someone of a notable risk that then injures them, the company is still on the hook.
Because waivers are complex matters of interpretation by the jury, you’ll need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney in Arizona in order to argue your case. Give ELG a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation, and learn more about how liability waivers might impact your unique case; if there’s a chance to get compensation, it’s definitely worth checking.