Before participating in some sports leagues, athletic events, and volunteer activities, a person is required to sign a “release” or “waiver of liability.” Taken at face value, this waiver will protect the responsible entity/company if someone suffers an injury while participating in that activity. These types of waivers are legal, however each release must specifically contain certain language in order to be binding and hold up in a Florida court of law.
A release as described above is generally disfavored in the eyes of the law because it works to absolve a negligent party from liability just because the injured person signed a piece of paper. In addition, if a company or store could just have their customers sign a waiver of liability when they entered the property, those companies would be less likely to keep a safe environment and less likely to work towards prevention of injuries.
In order for a release to be valid it must be “clear and unequivocal.” This means that it must specifically state in plain language what the release is saying and what it means. The release also must specifically state the term “negligence” if it is to be valid protection against a negligence claim; the release cannot just say something like, “we are absolved from any and all liability.” Also, there are statutory requirements regarding the font size of a release that must be complied with in order to have a valid release.
There are further issues involved when a parent signs a waiver of liability for their child or when participation in an activity is deemed inherently dangerous and whether a person has assumed the risk of injury just by participating in that activity. If you’ve been injured in an accident, but signed a waiver of liability beforehand, speak to a Tampa personal injury attorney to discuss whether the release is valid and what other issues you may face in a case involving a release and waiver of liability.