Can I sue for an injury if I signed a waiver?

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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Accidents can happen at any time, even in situations that you least expect it. Maybe you took your kids to a trampoline park for a birthday party, or you’re on vacation at the beach to enjoy some fun water sports. You’re careful, and you follow all the directions, but an accident still occurs. You sustain a significant injury, but you signed a waiver. What can you do?

Most people believe that because you signed a waiver, you cannot file a lawsuit. This isn’t necessarily true. A waiver essentially informs you of the possible risk for your desired activity. However, waivers don’t always cover accidents that can occur due to negligence.

In California, the law states that a recreation provider can be liable for severe injuries under the following circumstances:

  • There was gross negligence. Gross negligence includes conduct that is significantly out of the ordinary. For example, if the waiver you signed at a trampoline park informed you about the risk of kids knocking into each other but did not explain the risk of a child falling in-between gaps along the side of the trampoline, it could be considered gross negligence.
  • The waiver was ambiguous. Ambiguity in the language of the waiver is another example of how a recreation provider may be liable. If the waiver can be interpreted another way, there is reason to believe you may not have understood the waiver’s intent and, therefore, not be liable yourself.

Proving that a waiver was invalid can be challenging. You will need sufficient evidence to make your case, and it can be difficult when the recreation provider has your signature on a release form. But you shouldn’t lose hope. You may still have the chance to seek legal action if you sustain injuries from a recreational activity.

Consult with an attorney who can determine whether you have the grounds for a lawsuit. And remember to always be cautious of signing waivers in the future – seek legal help to better understand the waiver before you sign.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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