Liability Waivers and Assumption of Risk
With summer just around the corner, activities at amusement parks, family fun centers, and beach outings will kick into high gear. This year, more than ever, people are anxious to resume “normal” activities. However, as you know, in order to participate in certain activities, such as riding go-carts, riding a wave runner, or parasailing, you will, in all likelihood, be found to assume a certain amount of risk.
In order to knowingly assume a risk, one must be aware of the potential harm that may occur by participating in the activity. There are generally two ways that one may be found to assume risk:
- Implied assumption Implied assumption does not involve a written agreement, but rather involves one’s willingness to engage in a risky activity, as demonstrated by that person’s words or behavior. For example, if someone is waiting in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park, and stood next to warning signs explaining the potential for injury, he or she may be found to have known and understood the risks involved in riding, but chosen to go for the ride anyway.
- Express assumption Express assumption is normally where one signs an agreement indicating that he or she fully understands the risks involved with an activity, but indicates that he or she will participate in the activity anyway, acknowledging that he or she will not be entitled to compensation should an injury occur.
What Happens When Someone is Injured After Signing a Waiver Agreement?
Whether an injured party who has signed a waiver will still be entitled to compensation depends on exactly how the injury was sustained. The verbiage within the release will also determine whether or not the injured party is entitled to compensation. If the injured party is found to have assumed the risk of any injury sustained due to the negligence of the potential defendant, the injured party may then need to prove that the defendant’s conduct constituted not merely negligence, but gross negligence.
Here are some examples of behaviors that could be considered to rise to the level of gross negligence:
- A driver speeding or driving recklessly in a crowded area.
- Not blocking off obvious dangers and/or hazards located at a business facility.
- Not effectively communicating an extreme danger or hazard known to exist in the place of business.
- Not properly maintaining dangerous equipment/amusement rides.
- Allowing employees who are not properly licensed or certified to staff a ride/provide a service.
- Giving improper guidance or advice that the staff was not qualified to provide.
Negligence- Property Owners hold a Responsibility Known as a “Duty of Care”
A business proprietor or homeowner has a duty of care to keep their property free of dangers. In other words, the business proprietor, homeowner, or other entity has a responsibility or legal obligation. That is, to avoid acts or omissions that could likely cause harm to others. The standard of care is based upon how a typical person exercising “ordinary prudence” would act. The “reasonable person” test is used in all cases involving negligence.
Scott Bonebrake practices personal injury law in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for 25 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions, including those regarding Liability Waiver Agreements as they pertain to personal injury. You can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at email@example.com.