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Can I Still Sue After Signing a Liability Waiver in California?

December 5, 2021 Personal injury

Individuals sign liability waivers before participating in certain activities or using certain products. Often, these liability waivers prevent individuals from filing lawsuits in the event an injury occurs while participating in the activity or using the product in question. However, there may be some circumstances where individuals can file personal injury lawsuits even if they have signed a liability waiver.

Are Waivers of Liability Enforceable in California?

In the state of California, waivers of liability will be considered enforceable so long as they have been drafted properly and the language is explicit as to the scope of coverage. Additionally, the language in question has to be legible and use high visibility text (in other words, it cannot be in the fine print). The waiver can also not illegally waive unknown or unrelated claims.

We also have to be aware of the assumption of risk doctrine present in many of these cases. An assumption of risk may shield a defendant from liability in certain situations, even if there is no waiver of liability signed.

The doctrine of primary assumption of risk can protect defendants when the plaintiff’s voluntary involvement in an activity requires them to bear the burden of any risks or potential hazards. In other words, for certain activities, there are going to be inherent risks that cannot be helped. For example, if a person chooses to hike up a rough and rocky path and injuries their foot by tripping and falling, it may not be possible for an individual to file a lawsuit against the owner of the trail.

When Can You Sue After Signing a Waiver of Liability?When Can You Sue After Signing a Waiver of Liability?

However, a waiver of liability could be invalid. In general, we will see that waivers will be deemed invalid if:

  • The provisions of the agreement are illegal or “unconscionable.”
  • The language of the waiver is not comprehensible, clear, or explicit.
  • The waiver was obtained through deception, misrepresentation, fraud, undue influence, or when a person was under duress.
  • The injuries to the plaintiff were caused by the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional conduct
  • The scope of the waiver does not cover the defendant’s conduct

If you or somebody you know has been injured in an activity after signing a waiver of liability, this does not necessarily mean you will not be able to recover damages. Yes, signing a waiver may make recovering compensation more complex, but it is crucial to determine whether or not the waiver of liability is enforceable.

There are various types of activities throughout the state of California that may require individuals to sign waivers, some of which they may not even be aware of. Yes, individuals will obviously have to sign a waiver of liability before participating in activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, or some other activity with known significant risks. However, there are some situations where individuals sign waivers of liability and may not even know it. This includes:

  • Signing up for a gym
  • Renting tools or equipment
  • Renting a vehicle
  • Using a boat or jet ski
  • Going skiing or snowboarding
  • Going on a cruise
  • Going to a concert or sporting event

If you have been injured and are unsure of whether or not a waiver of liability applies in your case, please reach out to a skilled attorney who can examine the situation. An experienced injury attorney in San Diego, California will conduct an investigation into the incident, examine all waivers of liability and language used, and work to help you secure compensation for your losses.