Can I Still Sue for an Injury After Signing a Waiver?
Maine is famous for its natural beauty and variety of outdoor activities, many of which don’t come without inherent risks of injury. From boating and hiking to skiing and snow tubing, it is not unusual for someone to be asked to sign a waiver of liability before jumping into the fun. Waivers are agreements in which one party (a client or consumer) agrees to not make a claim against a provider in case the consumer gets injured due to the provider’s negligence. You might be asking – do waivers really make it impossible to sue a business or individual? Our personal injury attorneys explain what you need to know about filing a personal injury claim after signing a waiver.
What Should Be Included in a Valid Waiver of Liability?
For starters, a valid waiver should be physically signed. A patron or individual must either manually or electronically sign the document, as implied consent will likely not hold up in court. A waiver should explain the inherent risks of the activity at hand. Under Maine law, a person cannot sue another party for an injury resulting from an inherent risk associated with the activity. For example, one may get injured while skiing after colliding with another skier. Collision accidents are part of the set of expected or possible risks of skiing, but it should still be mentioned in the waiver. A waiver should also name the provider and clearly state that the person entering the contract agrees to release the provider from liability for injuries caused by the provider’s negligence.
What Makes a Waiver Invalid or Unenforceable?
While the objective of a waiver is to shield a provider from any potential lawsuits resulting from individuals getting injured after engaging in their services or entering a facility, it does not warrant full immunity to the provider. In general terms, a waiver can be found to be unenforceable if it is ambiguous, violates a statute or law or goes against public policy. Generally speaking, product liability claims are not released with waivers, for example, because the policy is to encourage product manufacturers to build and sell safe products.
Waivers that do not contain clear and specific language or that are required for a service that may be considered a necessity may not be enforceable. Additionally, the inherent risks associated with the activity must be known by the consumer or easily discoverable, and the waiver must include language releasing the provider from complaints arising out of negligence. The lack of one or more of these elements may make it hard if not impossible for a waiver to hold up in court.
What Should I Do If I Got Hurt After Signing a Waiver?
If you engaged in an activity that requires a waiver to be signed and subsequently got injured, it is best to consult an attorney to see if you have a case. Maine waiver laws can be complicated to understand, but in most cases where you can demonstrate that the provider of the services acted with gross negligence, you might still have a chance to initiate a personal injury claim.
Every case is different, and no specific outcome is guaranteed. If you would like to know if you have a valid claim, contact the legal team at Gideon Asen LLC by calling our office and we will be happy to assist you.