Waivers of liability are a way of life. If you have ever engaged in some kind of risky activity, you probably signed a waiver of liability before doing so. Even recreational activities might require you signing some kind of agreement releasing the proprietor from negligence.
Sometimes known as “pre-injury clauses”, waivers of liability may have a huge impact on an injury victim’s legal right to seek damages for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. In California, the scope and wording of a waiver of liability agreement is crucial to determining whether an injury victim’s claim is actionable.
Just because someone signs a waiver of liability in California, he or she is not necessarily barred from having their lawsuit heard by the courts. Following an accident, speaking to a qualified San Francisco personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights. Wrongdoers often attempt to skirt their responsibilities to follow the law and refrain from placing people at risk of undue harm.
Important things to know about California waivers of liability
California courts have strict guidelines for interpreting the validity of waivers of liability to insulate defendants from liability. Courts hold that although waivers of liability clauses need not be perfectly worded, the agreements none the less need to distinctly inform the individual signing the document of the legal ramifications.
Any ambiguity in the waiver of liability may give the releaser legal recourse to sue for damages. If reasonable individuals can find a fair and alternative meaning of the release, California courts hold the agreement may be void. In other words, if the person signing the document cannot understand its purpose and reasonably interprets the waiver of liability to mean something else, he or she may proceed with a lawsuit.
To ensure waivers of liability are properly understood, any risks of injury must be explicitly stated. Participants must understand they are taking part in a potentially risky behavior and even injuries caused by someone else’s negligence are not actionable claims.
Not every possible act of negligence needs to be listed in a waiver of liability clause. So long as the act of negligence is reasonably related to the provisions of the indemnity agreement, no claims may be brought.
Exceptions to waivers of liability in California
There are exceptions to waivers of liability in California. In addition to ambiguous wording in indemnity agreements, public policy holds acts of “gross negligence” are not covered by waivers of liability clauses.
Gross negligence in California is defined as the extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct proprietors must practice. An indifference to safety, willful misconduct, and reckless behavior may not be defended by a waiver of liability.
San Francisco personal injury attorneys
If you or a loved one was hurt after taking part in some kind of activity requiring an injury release form, speaking to a San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney can help you understand whether or not you have the right to seek compensation. Attorneys have the training and experience necessary to interpret waivers of liability agreements and the implications they may have on someone’s legal rights.
Injury victims hurt by another’s negligence may be eligible to recover compensation for lost wages, hospital bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Make sure you and your family have someone on your side to advocate for you.