If you have ever been a member of a gym, ran in a 5K, sent your kids to summer camp or taken part in a risky recreational activity like rock climbing or skydiving, you may have signed a liability waiver.
A liability waiver is a contract between two parties, often a business and a customer, that claims to release the business from liability for injuries the customer may suffer. For example, a liability waiver for a gym/fitness center may say you accept the risks of using weights and other equipment and waive your right to hold the gym liable if you suffer an injury. Typically, waivers say customers are waiving their right to hold the business responsible for intentional or even unintentional harm.
Liability waivers often explain the risks of the activity you are about to take part in. For example, a liability waiver for a 5K may warn you about running being dangerous if you have certain health conditions.
Business owners often create liability waivers without learning how courts in their state treat these contracts. That is a big problem for Louisiana business owners because Louisiana statute makes these agreements null and void.
For business owners who do know the law, liability waivers are nothing more than a scare tactic. Business owners assume injury victims will remember the contract they signed and think they have no legal options for pursuing compensation. They may not even call an attorney to discuss the situation.
Below, our experienced Lafayette personal injury lawyers discuss liability waivers in Louisiana. If you were injured after signing a liability waiver, give us a call to discuss potential legal options. The initial consultation is free and there are no upfront fees for our services.
Louisiana Law on Liability Waivers
According to Louisiana Civil Code Article 2004, a clause in a contract becomes unenforceable if it “excludes or limits the liability of one party for causing physical injury to another party.”
That means a liability waiver is likely to be thrown out in court. Injury victims should seek experienced legal representation, as an experienced attorney should be able to get a liability waiver thrown out of court relatively quickly.
It is also important to note parents cannot sign away a child’s right to seek compensation for an injury caused by negligence. That means liability waivers for places like summer camps might have been invalid in Louisiana even without the law making liability waivers unenforceable.
Holding a Business Liable for an Injury
Despite liability waivers being null and void in Louisiana, injury victims still have the burden of proving they were injured by the business owner’s negligence. Victims must establish that a business owner or an employee failed to use reasonable care to prevent an injury, and this breach of a duty of care directly resulted in an injury and damages.
It is important to note the business is likely to allege you were injured because of your own negligence. In fact, they may cite your signature on the liability waiver as evidence you knew of the dangers of the activity you were taking part in. They may use this to back up their argument about your own negligence.
The business may have a point if were using something improperly or recklessly. For example, if you used a piece of exercise equipment incorrectly or in a dangerous way and suffered an injury, you might not have a case.
Fortunately, injury victims who are partially responsible for their injuries can still seek compensation for their damages. However, your compensation award will be reduced by your percentage of fault, if you are able to prove your claim.
Possible Examples of Negligence
There are many examples of negligence that could lead to an injury during a recreational activity, or some other activity referenced in a liability waiver. For example, maybe a staff member at a gym failed to clean up a spill on the floor and this led to a slip and fall injury.
If you went to a rock-climbing business and suffered an injury because they had you using old climbing gear or had failed to make sure it was securely fastened around you, there might be a valid claim for negligence.
Essentially, if you have reason to believe employees could have acted differently to prevent an injury, and it would have been reasonable to expect them to act differently, there may be a case. If they knew about a dangerous situation and did not warn you, either verbally or with a sign, or take steps to fix the hazard, there may be a case.
Injured by Another’s Negligence? Call Galloway Jefcoat for Assistance
Our firm has secured millions on behalf of injury victims in Louisiana and there are no upfront fees for our services. Our attorneys do not get paid unless you get paid. That means there is no financial risk in meeting with us to discuss how we may be able to assist you.
We are prepared to manage every step of the legal process on your behalf. That frees you up to focus on your recovery. We know how an injury can affect many aspects of your life and we are prepared to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Give us a call today to learn more. (337) 984-8020