Does a Signed “Release of Liability” Bar a Lawsuit?
In many situations in North Carolina, a signed release of liability would not bar the recovery of damages in a personal injury claim. For example, imagine a homeowner inviting children over to his son’s birthday trampoline party. He asks all the parents to sign a “release of liability” where they agree not to sue if their children are injured on the trampoline. One of the children’s mother signs the form, then her child falls off the trampoline and is seriously hurt. Can the child still recover for personal injuries? The answer will depend on many factors. A court will consider, “Why was the child injured?” Was he hurt because the trampoline was not set up right, and did not have proper netting around it? Did the parent who signed the release realize that the trampoline did not have certain safety mechanisms in place when she signed the waiver? Was the child injured because too many children were allowed to jump on the trampoline at one time? How old was the child? Did the child use the trampoline the way it was intended? Were the children given any safety instructions, and were they supervised by an adult? The answers to these, and many other questions will determine whether the child can successfully recover for his injuries.
More Info About Waiver’s for Children
Additionally, the fact that the injured person is a child is also very important. A court could find that the mother who signed the release waived her right to recover medical bills. But does this bar the child from recovering for pain and suffering? And does this bar the child’s father from seeking recovery of medical expenses that he may be responsible for? Children cannot enter into contracts, and generally, parents cannot enter into contracts that are binding on their children. The law in North Carolina even provides that settlements of minors’ personal injury claims must be approved by a judge, to ensure the terms of the settlement are fair and just to the child. If a parent cannot enter into a settlement of a child’s personal injury claim without a judge’s approval, shouldn’t that parent also need a judge’s approval to completely waive the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit?
Waivers and Terms and Conditions Are Becoming Common
This is just one example. Waivers are more and more common today, and have become more and more complex. People are asked to sign waivers before they go on trips, when they buy a computer, or when they go skiing. Sometimes, the waivers profess to be complete bars to recovery, and sometimes they limit recovery by stipulating that the parties will arbitrate any disputes instead of seeking recovery in a court of law. Our attorneys have experience dealing with these issues. We have handled a case where someone was injured in a hot air balloon accident. Our client signed a release before riding on the hot air balloon. She was still entitled to a recovery since the accident was caused by the negligence of the operator and was not an inherent or foreseeable risk in riding in a hot air balloon. To read more about that case, and others like it, look at our Results page.
We’re Ready to Talk
For these reasons and may more, you should not assume that a signed waiver of liability bars recovery for personal injuries. Whether the release involved a minor, or an adult, and whether the injuries were catastrophic or just serious to you, you should contact us for a free evaluation. We will be honest with you and let you know if we can help.