Liability waivers – Are they worth the paper they are printed on? If you have ever joined a gym, taken part in a sporting event, or enjoyed activities such as rock climbing or abseiling, you most likely signed a personal injury liability waiver. This waiver, sometimes referred to as a participation agreement, is a legal document, and in signing it, you accepted the risks associated with the activity and ‘waived’ your right to make any claim against the person or entity for any injury or damage that may occur. However, it is important to know that this does not necessarily protect the organiser from all circumstances of injury sustained while undertaking the activity.
When is a personal injury liability waiver useful?
A waiver can be a useful tool for an organiser to clearly outline the risks associated with a particular activity to the participant. In making the document clear and allowing sufficient time for the participant to consider it, they will be fully aware of their rights and the potential risk of harm. Therefore, for example, if you happen to fall and get injured while rock climbing, it might be difficult to make a claim because it is a foreseeable risk associated with the activity. A waiver in these circumstances is perfectly legal, but perhaps of limited value.
Effect of The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
What happens if you fall and injure yourself as a result of a loose climbing hold falling off as you pull yourself up? Or the organiser’s member of staff fails to properly secure your harness? The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 would render a waiver invalid in this situation as an organiser cannot exclude themselves from liability for injury caused by their own negligence. Event organisers and other entities still owe those who have signed a waiver a duty of care. They are therefore required to ensure, among other things, that equipment is safe for its intended use, staff are adequately trained and participants are properly taught how to use the equipment. If you suffer injury as a result of an organiser’s failure to meet one of these requirements, you may have a strong case to bring a personal injury claim.
Protecting yourself against a personal injury claim
Given that a personal injury liability waiver will not protect against all liability, it is important for an event organiser or other business to ensure they have sufficient public liability insurance in place to cover any potential personal injury claims made against them. However, it is not a legal requirement for companies to have public liability insurance, so it is best to satisfy yourself that the event has sufficient insurance before participating.
Overall, waivers can be a complex issue in personal injury claims. While they can be a useful tool for protecting the responsible party from liability, they are not always enforceable and therefore do not provide complete protection. It is important to consider any waiver thoroughly before signing it in order to understand your rights in the event of any injury.