Did You Really Waive Your Rights? What You Need To Know About Waivers Of Liability

If you are like most people, you don't hesitate to sign that waiver of liability at the amusement park or before you set out on that adrenalin-filled sport's event. You probably think that signing a paper wouldn't really take away your protection. You might think it's only there to prevent you from suing the organizer for injuries you incur due to your own careless behavior. The truth is, waivers of liability aren't about your mistakes at all. Waivers are there to protect the event sponsor and aren't written with your health and well-being in mind.

Waivers don't really protect sponsors from negligence, do they?

You might be surprised to learn that many times waivers really do protect sponsors from negligence. While there is some room for interpretation when it comes to determining the sponsor's negligence, many states use a more lenient definition of negligence when determining liability if you have signed a waiver of liability. Typically, negligence means that the sponsor or owner failed to reasonably address risks, meaning a reasonable person would recognize the risk and take corrective action; however, if you have signed a waiver, courts are likely to require evidence of gross negligence. Gross negligence is defined as actions that even a careless person would have avoided. Loose gravel on the walkway may not be grounds for gross negligence but faulty equipment or equipment in a state of disrepair might. This varies according to state laws, explains Recreation Management.

 I didn't sign it. Can I sue for my spouses injuries?

That depends on where you live. If your spouse signed a waiver of liability and sustained injuries or died during the event, you may be able to sue the sponsor. This varies depending on your state laws. Some states assume implied consent from a spouse, even if your hand never touched the pen, while others allow the spouse to pursue legal remedies. If you are not sure what laws apply to your case, contact a personal injury lawyer by clicking here.

Okay, but it doesn't apply to my minor child's safety, does it?

Believe it or not, most states do enforce waivers signed by parents, even when the child is a minor. If your child participates in activities that require a waiver of liability, make sure you know what you are signing. If that sport's coach or dance teacher puts your child at risk, you may not have any grounds to stand on if you've signed a waiver.

I have insurance, so I'm okay, right?

Not necessarily. Most insurance companies do not have an issue with waivers of liability, but some do. If you are in doubt about how your insurance company handles waivers of liability, give them a call before your sign away your rights.

I signed a waiver and got injured. Now what do I do?

Just because you signed a waiver does not mean your injuries or medical costs will not be covered. Some liability waivers are not enforceable due to improper wording. Other times, the court decides that the circumstances surrounding your injuries represent gross negligence on the behalf of the sponsor. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and help you navigate the maze to get your concerns addressed. 


  • Read the waiver carefully before signing.
  • Ask if the waiver is required before participation.
  • Consider whether participation is worth the potential risks.
  • Have a lawyer check the waiver ahead of time, if feasible. 

Waivers of liability are not limited to sports events and outdoor activities. You may be asked to sign a waiver of liability when admitting someone to a nursing home or long-term care facility, when sending your child off to summer camp or even when you visit the Emergency Room. Understanding how a waiver of liability can affect you is important to protecting your family's safety.