People who have suffered a serious personal injury while undergoing a medical procedure, playing a sport or engaging in a risky activity may wonder whether they have grounds for legal action. In many cases, your right to do so would never be in question. Nevertheless, if the venue at which you experienced physical harm had required you to sign a waiver or release beforehand, things will get a bit murkier, and you may wonder whether a potential lawsuit would stand up in a court of law.
The signing of these waivers has becoming increasingly common. The stable that once posted signs reading, “Ride at your own risk” is far more likely nowadays to have you sign a waiver relieving them of responsibility if an accident should happen. The same is true of gyms, pools, sporting events, sky diving venues and medical establishments of any kind. What do these documents really mean? Can they actually strip you of all legal rights?
When the Client Assumes the Risk
The person who signs a waiver or release is expressing an assumption of risk. On its face, this signed document serves as your affirmation that if you should suffer injury while participating in or submitting to the services offered by a certain establishment, you agree to absolve the proprietors of all responsibility. In other words, you promise not to institute a personal injury suit. Have you just signed away all your rights?
Assessing a Waiver’s Validity
Although the state of Nevada holds waivers or releases to be generally enforceable, this is not always the case. A properly written waiver must adhere to certain standards. Any anomalies uncovered during careful examination might call its validity into question.
A Valid Waiver Is Easily Understood
A valid waiver will state its case in terms that are clear, explicit and in no way open to interpretation. It should not require a law degree to make sense of the waiver’s wording. If any part of the document should show ambiguity, the person who signed it might still have a valid case.
A Valid Waiver Is Easy to Read
Even a thoroughly explicit waiver could prove to be invalid if it states its details in illegible type. Small print in particular can pose problems for many people. Some courts have held that waiver specifications printed in anything smaller than an 8-point font were too difficult to read and therefore unenforceable.
A Valid Waiver Does Not Attempt to Hide its Provisions
Within any waiver, the location of the exculpatory language is especially meaningful. To hold its own in a court of law, its important restrictions must appear in a location at which any reasonable person will be sure to see them. The waiver that buries its vital stipulations could someday find itself invalidated.
A Valid Waiver Avoids Being Overly Specific
The courts have held waivers to be unenforceable when their wording is explicit about everything except the particular circumstance under which the plaintiff suffered injury. A health club whose waiver relieves itself of responsibility only for injury due to the negligence of other users will have no standing if the plaintiff can prove that the establishment’s own negligence and not anyone else’s caused his particular accident.
Intentional Negligence or Gross Misconduct
No waiver, however carefully worded, will ever protect an establishment from bearing responsibility for accidents that result from gross negligence or intentional misbehavior on its part. Regardless of an activity’s inherent dangers, anyone who signs such a release has the right to expect the organization for which he signed it to provide the basic care and protection that any normal person would expect under the law. An establishment that fails to do so could well find its waiver invalidated.
Where Minors are Concerned
A small number of states will permit a parent to sign a waiver on behalf of a minor child. Nevada is not one of them. In the eyes of Nevada law, minors are not competent to enter into any contract that essentially waives their right to sue for personal injury, and their parents cannot legally do it for them.
How You Can Fight for Your Rights
Although it can be difficult to triumph over a signed waiver of liability, numerous injured plaintiffs have succeeded in doing just that. If you are evaluating your chances of winning a lawsuit under similar conditions, a competent personal injury attorney can determine whether the release that you signed is invalid in any way. Should that prove to be the case, your chances of prevailing could be better than you’d thought. Contact Weiner Law Group today at 702-202-0500 to find out your chances of filing a personal injury lawsuit.