If you engage in a potentially dangerous activity, odds are that the individual or company in charge of the activity will make you sign a liability waiver. This waiver could prevent you from pursuing compensation if you get injured while participating in the activity. How a liability waiver may impact your injury claim, however, depends on whether the document is legally enforceable in Georgia.
What Is a Liability Waiver?
The purpose of a liability waiver is to protect the creator from legal and financial responsibility for a participant’s potential injuries. Liability waivers are most common in risky or dangerous activities, where the risk of injury to a participant is higher than average. Common examples in Georgia include amusement parks, field trips, gyms, trampoline parks, zip-lining, tours, sports stadiums and recreational events. Signing a liability waiver means the participant is accepting the known or potential risks of the activity and waiving his or her rights to hold the creator liable for injuries and related losses.
When Is a Liability Waiver Enforceable?
Although a liability waiver could impact your ability to hold someone else responsible for your injuries or losses, it is not a catchall system. In many cases, the courts will rule liability waivers unenforceable due to issues with the language of the contracts. For example, a liability waiver cannot violate public policy in Georgia. If the terms of the waiver could jeopardize public safety, it violates public policy and will be ruled invalid.
Other laws in Georgia also prohibit liability waivers that are related to certain activities. Previous Georgia courts, for example, have held that liability waivers are unenforceable when related to the construction or maintenance of a building. Landlords also cannot protect themselves from liability for tenant accidents and injuries in leasing agreements. Finally, the Georgia courts have ruled against allowing liability waivers and similar agreements from medical professionals. These are three examples of when a court in Georgia might rule a liability waiver unenforceable.
In addition to not going against public policy, a liability waiver in Georgia must fulfill several general requirements. First, it must be in writing. It must use clear and unambiguous language that makes the reason for the liability waiver obvious. Second, it must contain the signature of an adult obtained voluntarily, not through coercion, intimidation or misrepresentation of facts. Third, it cannot protect the creator against gross negligence or recklessness. Even if you signed a valid liability waiver, it will not protect someone from liability for willful or wanton misconduct, intent to harm, maliciousness, or gross negligence that injured you.
Does a Liability Waiver Mean You Cannot File a Claim?
If the defendant gave you a valid and enforceable waiver and was guilty of only ordinary negligence in causing your injuries, you may not have grounds to file a claim against that party.
However, there are many situations in which the courts in Georgia will rule a liability waiver unenforceable. It is important to speak to a lawyer after an injury involving a liability waiver. These cases can be complicated. Each will follow different rules. An Atlanta personal injury attorney can carefully review the waiver you signed and assess the other details of the situation. Then, your lawyer can let you know if you have grounds for an injury claim despite a liability waiver.
If you signed a waiver or implicitly assumed the risks of an activity that injured you, work with an attorney for assistance with your injury case. These issues can make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation for your losses. If you were injured after signing a liability waiver in Georgia, discuss the details of your case with a personal injury attorney from Hilley & Frieder, P.C. at no cost. Our lawyers can help you understand your right to pursue compensation with or without a liability waiver.