The Enforceability of Liability Release Waivers in Virginia Courts

When someone joins a gym or engages in any type of pay-to-play activity, such as bungee jumping, skiing, or river rafting, the company providing the service will often request that the person sign a liability release waiver before participating in the activity. These waivers most often contain fine print and are rarely read word-for-word, but they do contain important information about the rights that the person participating in the activity is giving up.

For example, most liability release waivers will absolve the provider of any liability that could normally arise from the negligent conduct of the business or any of its employees. This may act to prevent someone who is injured while engaging in the activity from seeking compensation for their injuries, even though the business may have been negligent in creating or failing to correct a hazard.

Liability waivers are not always enforceable, however. Virginia courts will normally uphold waivers only as long as they are appropriate and do not go beyond their permissible scope. For example, a company will not normally be permitted to ask a customer to release the company from liability for the reckless or intentional acts of its employees. A liability release waiver that attempts to do so will likely be determined to be invalid.

Man Injured While Working Out at a Gym Denied the Ability to Recover Compensation, Based on Valid Waiver

Earlier last month, a Delaware court considered the very issue discussed above in the case of Ketler v. PFPA. The plaintiff in the case was injured while he was working out at the gym. According to the evidence, he was working out on a cable rowing machine when the cable broke, causing his injuries.

As a result of his injuries, the man filed a lawsuit against the gym, alleging that the gym’s negligence in failing to properly maintain its equipment resulted in his injuries. However, the gym presented the court with a liability release waiver signed by the plaintiff prior to joining the gym.

The court looked at the document and ultimately determined that it was a valid release waiver, and that as a result of signing it the plaintiff gave up his right to sue the gym for its negligence. Because of this, the man will not be able to seek compensation for his injuries from the gym.

Have You Been Injured in a Pay-to-Play Activity?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a slip and fall accident and wish to pursue a personal injury claim, you may still be entitled to compensation despite the fact you signed a waiver. Under Virginia law, liability release waivers can be invalid in a number of circumstances, and when that is the case the company attempting to absolve itself of liability may still be able to be held responsible for its negligent actions. To learn more about premises liability cases, and to speak with a dedicated Virginia personal injury attorney about your injuries, call (703) 798-3039 today to set up your consultation.

See More Blog Posts:

Couple Sues Auction House after Wife Injured in Slip-and-Fall Accident, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 20, 2016.

The Dangers of Fatigued Driving in Virginia, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 13, 2016.

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