Do you have a personal injury case if you signed a waiver?
Yes, often you will have a legal standing to pursue compensation for loss, even if you signed a waiver. In general waivers can be overcome if there is negligence on the part of the person or company providing the waiver.
Global Travel Marketing, Inc. v. Shea, a FL Supreme Court case from 2005, is a good example (and a very difficult read.) One parent, divorced from the other, signed a waiver and took their minor child on a safari, where the child was mauled to death by hyenas. The other parent sued the travel company, which raised the defense of a signed waiver. The FL Supreme Court held that a waiver signed by one parent wasn’t binding on the other parent.
Here are some other examples that you can use as a framework for understanding the potential of your case:
– Sign a waiver for a skydiving company, but the parachute doesn’t open? Yeah, that waiver won’t count for much. Your family can hire a lawyer.
– Sign a waiver for a cruise ship but there aren’t enough lifeboats when it hits an iceberg and sinks? You didn’t waive your right to a lifeboat. Rose could have sued!
– Sign a waiver at a go-kart place, and a wheel comes off the kart at 20 mph? Go ahead and hire a lawyer.
In all of the above examples, the company in question is responsible for the harm caused, because the experience or service you signed up for was not what was delivered. Even if the parachute was packed expertly, even if the go-kart had all of its scheduled maintenance, that’s still on them. When you sign a waiver, you’re signing away your right to sue if something happens to you during the course of normal operations.
Here’s what it would look like if you do not have a right to sue because of a signed waiver:
– Sign a waiver for a skydiving company, and you land badly and fracture your tibia. Unfortunately, that’s on you. They provided the service described and are not at fault for your injury (even if doesn’t feel like you’re at fault, either.)
– Sign a waiver for a cruise ship, and after taking advantage of the open bar all day long, discover the short end of the pool in the middle of a long dive. Your injuries are your fault, not the bartender’s fault or the lifeguard’s fault.
– Sign a waiver at a go-kart place, and aggravate a pre-existing neck condition. Even if there was no fine print addressing this possibility, or that you should consider it, you are responsible for understanding your own personal risk factors in any activity.
If you think there may be some gray area, I’m always happy to offer a consultation. Please call our office, 407-246-8488.