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Limiting Recovery For Personal Injuries Through A Waiver Of Liability

When arriving at an amusement park or recreational resort to enjoy a day of thrilling rides, the prospect of getting severely injured is not always on every visitor’s mind.  However, many amusements parks and recreational resorts require visitor to sign waivers before enjoying some of the rides at the park.  These waivers are supposed to protect the amusement park in the event of an accident, and depending on the language of the waiver, the injured party cannot sue for personal injuries sustained in the accident.

Despite the fact that waivers of liability are disfavored because of the shifting of liability from a business to an injured person who is least likely to absorb the cost of the injury, they are nonetheless enforceable under Florida law unless they are found to be unambiguous and not in contravention of public policy.  When the language used in the waiver gives the person signing it enough notice that he or she is signing an intent to release the other party from liability, the language is likely to be considered unambiguous.

Generally, waivers are found to be unenforceable when they release the amusement park for its own recklessness.  However, if the language of the waiver clearly spells out that the person signing the waiver is granting immunity for the park’s and its employees’ negligence, it may be considered enforceable.  Parents are allowed to sign waivers of liability on behalf of their children who are participating in an activity.  The law allowing for parents to waive liability on behalf of their children provides sample language that would ensure that a parental waiver on behalf of a minor would be enforceable.  A business’ use of this language creates a rebuttable presumption that the waiver is enforceable.  This kind of clarity is not always possible for all waivers and the person signing the waiver should be careful to read the waiver before signing it.

The kind of injury that a person sustains is also important to a determination of the validity of a waiver as waivers are most likely enforceable for injuries that are reasonably foreseeable with the activity undertaken.  These kinds of risks are considered inherent risks of the activity.  If a person’s injury is so unforeseen and unexpected in relation to the activity for which he or she generally signed a waiver, the waiver is unlikely to be enforced in that case.

In a related defense, a business may claim that the injured person assumed the risk of the undertaken activity.  In claiming an assumption of risk against the injured person, the business should be able to show that the risk was undertaken with a clear understanding of the particular risk of the business’ conduct.

Contact Us For Legal Assistance

Whether you or your family member signed a waiver at an amusement park before getting injured, you should seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney to find out how to proceed.  You may still have the right to seek compensation despite the signed waiver.  Contact the experienced Jacksonville, Florida personal injury attorneys at Gillette Law, P.A. for a consultation and for assistance with your case.

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