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Every time your child goes on a field trip, participate in a school sport, join a summer camp program, you sign a liability waiver.
Kids can get hurt, and many businesses do not want to take responsibility for your child if he or she gets injured. However, liability waivers are not the perfect shield against lawsuits.
Here are three things you should know about liability waivers:
1. You Can't Claim You Didn't Read It
Don't deny it. You probably don't read the whole waiver before you sign it. There's too much legal mumbo jumbo. Who has time to read it?
However, if you sign the waiver, it's presumed that you read the contract and know what you're agreeing too. You won't be able to claim later on that you didn't actually agree to anything because you didn't know what you were signing.
2. The Waiver May Not Be Enforceable
Not all liability waivers are enforceable. Read the waiver closely to see what it's asking you to give up.
If the contract waives all liability, the court will likely find it overbroad and unenforceable.
If the contract waives all liability for intentional or reckless acts, the court is likely to declare it unconscionable and against public policies. An act may be intentional or reckless if the responsible person knew or should have known that their actions would cause an unjustifiable risk of harm. Courts do not want to encourage people deliberately cause or contribute to an injury just because they can hide safely behind a liability waiver.
Most enforceable liability waivers will only waive liability for negligence.
3. You May Be the Wrong Person to Sign
In some states, such as Michigan, liability waivers signed by parents on behalf of their children aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Michigan courts have ruled that parents can't waive a child's claim for personal injury cases unless specifically appointed to do so by the court. So, a parent's signature on a liability waiver may have no effect whatsoever on a child's ability to sue for personal injury.
If you or your child are injured at a camp or recreational event, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim, even if you signed a liability waiver.