What You Need to Know When You Sign a Waiver Form
3 Important Things to Consider About Liability Waiver Forms
Liability waiver forms show up in all sorts of activities from white water rafting to playing in a moon bounce. If you've ever taken part in an activity with a certain degree of danger, you likely signed one of these forms but may not have completely understood what you were signing.
We've broken down the basics behind liability waiver forms so you have all of the facts before you sign on that signature line.
What are Liability Waiver Forms?
Liability waiver forms, also called waiver or release forms, are quite common in the U.S. and required prior to many types of activities and events. These forms are used to protect businesses or organizations from liability for dangerous activities by requiring that the participant sign a release before participating. Signing the release means that you waive, (i.e. give up) your right to hold the other party legally responsible if you are injured during the activity in question.
Here are three important things to keep in mind about liability waiver forms:
1. Liability Waiver Forms are Binding Legal Documents
Because liability waiver forms are typically signed at casual locations, like at outdoor activity sites, they may seem like informal documents. But don't be fooled. For the most part, these forms are binding legal contracts and should be taken seriously.
There are sometimes exceptions to this in certain states and on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the specific activity and stipulations of the form, the legality of a waiver form can be questioned in a court of law. But generally, these contracts are upheld.
2. Forms Signed by Minors are Not Valid
One important rule of waiver forms is that they are not considered valid if they are signed only by a minor. In Pennsylvania, a minor is anyone who is under the age of 18. This is because a liability waiver form is a type of contract, and PA law maintains that only legal, consenting adults can enter into contracts.
No one under 18 can lawfully enter into a contract, so if a minor wants to participate in an activity requiring a liability waiver form (e.g. jumping in a bounce house or climbing a rock wall) their parent or legal guardian must be the one to sign. Businesses and organizations should be aware of this and will usually ask minors to provide an adult's signature.
3. You Have the Option Not to Sign—Sort Of
If you truly do not want to waive your legal right to bring a claim against the at-fault party if you are injured, you do not have to. The only issue there is that many, if not all, businesses and organizations require that you sign the form in order to participate in the activity. They consider liability waiver forms to be a prerequisite for participation in that specific activity due to the inherent risk involved.
In that case, you'll likely have to sit the activity out. You probably won't be known as the daredevil of your group, but hey, at least you stuck to your morals.
Enjoy Activities and Events, But Always Know the Risks
Being fully alert and aware of your environment is crucial to staying safe whether you're white water rafting or just driving around the neighborhood. But even if you aren't taking part in an extreme activity, accidents can still happen and sometimes it's not your fault.
If you're ever injured in an accident that wasn't your fault, our law firm may be able to help. It's free to call, and we're available any time.