Are Liability Waivers Enforceable?
Personal Injury - November 11, 2020
Waivers of liability are used frequently by businesses and property owners in an effort to avoid facing a lawsuit in the event somebody is injured on their property or while participating in their sponsored activities. However, we are often asked whether or not waivers of liability are enforceable in Illinois. If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury but have been told you cannot file a lawsuit because you signed a waiver of liability, you should speak to a Chicago injury attorney as soon as possible.
Illinois Liability Waiver Laws
In Illinois, one of the key requirements for a waiver of liability to be enforceable is that it contains “clear, explicit, and concise” language. However, many waivers of liability do not follow these guidelines. Some waivers of liability are too short and do not outline specific or detailed risks that are covered. Conversely, some waivers of liability are too long and full of legal jargon that may not necessarily be comprehensible to an ordinary consumer. In these cases, the waiver will likely be unenforceable under Illinois law.
Additionally, Illinois courts have held that waivers of liability signed by a parent before a minor child’s cause of action are ineffective. Illinois is not the only state that applies this rule. In general, a parent cannot waive or release a minor child’s cause of action in these injury cases (Meyer v. Naperville Manner, Inc., 262 Ill.App.3d 141 (2d Dist. 1994). This means that other individuals, businesses, or entities could be responsible for injuries that occur to a minor regardless of whether or not a waiver of liability was signed.
Can You Sue After Signing a Liability Waiver?
No two injury cases are alike, and there are various factors that will determine whether or not you will be able to file a lawsuit after you have signed a waiver of liability. Waivers of liability are regularly used by businesses and other entities in order to avoid paying out claims for any injuries that happen on their premises or during sponsored activities. In general, waivers of liability will be upheld in the event a person is injured during the course of events so long as the injury occurred due to an ordinary risk associated with the underlying event.
For example, when you go to a gym, you will have signed a waiver of liability before you are allowed to use the facilities. Any person at a gym assumes the inherent risk of sustaining an injury caused by improper lifting techniques. It is generally understood that this is a foreseeable and universal risk. However, if a person sustains an injury at a gym because one of the machines was poorly maintained and malfunctioned during the workout, this may be considered negligence on the part of the gym owners or operators. A lawsuit may be successful in this case.
Waivers of liability will typically not be upheld in the event the negligence of another individual or company directly caused a person’s injuries. Additionally, the courts will likely not uphold a waiver of liability in the event a person sustains an injury caused by somebody else’s gross negligence. This means that the other party acted negligently and with a reckless disregard for the well-being of others in their care.
If you or somebody you love has been injured and wonder whether or not a waiver of liability is enforceable in Illinois, please seek assistance from a skilled personal injury lawyer who can analyze the facts surrounding your case and help you make the best decision moving forward.