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Can You Still Sue if You Signed a Liability Waiver in Florida?

on  Personal Injury

Did your kids get hurt while jumping at a trampoline park? Did you get injured while visiting an amusement park in Florida? If so, you may wonder, “Can I file a lawsuit if I signed a waiver?” 

Today more than ever, many of the things we do require the use of a contract. Everything from participating in a marathon and rock climbing to playing sports requires signing a contract. Most of these contracts contain liability waiver clauses. All participants must agree to sign these contracts and waivers before participating in the specific activity. 

Liability waivers exist to protect service providers from liability by limiting your right to sue. However, signing a waiver does not always bar you from filing a claim against a business or operation for any injuries you suffer. 

What is a liability waiver, and can you sue a Miami jet ski company or boat company for injuries if you’ve signed one? What about one of the main theme parks, like Disney World or Universal Studios? Can you still sue if you signed a liability waiver in Florida? 

Unfortunately, signing a liability waiver often misleads personal injury victims into believing that there is little they can do. As a result, they often fail to explore their legal options. This benefits the business or company but not the injured accident victim. 

Miami personal injury lawyer Prosper Shaked discusses liability waivers and the possibility of suing after signing one.

What is a Liability Waiver?

A liability waiver is a legal agreement between a participant and a service provider. Through this contract, the participant relieves the service provider of liability in the event of an injury. These agreements are often seen in many sports settings and extreme recreational activities such as trampoline parks, bungee jumping, zip lining, jet ski rental, etc. Typically, a Florida hotel or business will have you sign a waiver for water sports and boating activities because of how common Miami boat accidents are.

When you sign a waiver, you voluntarily agree to the terms expressed in the contract. Under many of these terms, you relinquish your right to sue in case of an injury.

Typical waivers contain a combination of clauses the participant must agree to if they want to participate in a particular activity. Most liability waivers include multiple terms to cover various legal avenues to a lawsuit. 

Some of the most common waiver clauses include the following:

Release of Liability

A release of liability clause commonly states the participant acknowledges the risks and dangers associated with a particular activity and will not hold the party running the event or activity liable for any injuries they suffer by accident. For instance, triathlon athletes often sign waivers containing a release of liability clause. This clause frees the service providers from liability for things like falling, being stepped on by other runners, and other common injuries they could face.

Assumption of Risk

An assumption of risk clause commonly states the participant acknowledges the risks and dangers associated with an activity and is willing to participate anyway. Furthermore, the participant voluntarily and freely has to accept and assume responsibility for all the risks and hazards associated with such activity.

Acknowledgment of Understanding

The acknowledgment of understanding clause is usually at the end of the release form. This is a recap of all preceding provisions and states that the participant had the opportunity to review the document and clarify any doubts before the final signature. Signing a clause like this makes it harder for someone to claim later they misread or did not understand the waiver.

Can I Sue If I Already Signed a Liability Waiver in Florida?

If the business drafted the liability waiver properly,  signing means you give up your right to sue. However, this is not the end of the story. You can still file a lawsuit if the company acted grossly negligent or if there were deficiencies in the contract. In these cases, a court may throw out the contract, allowing you to proceed with a lawsuit. 

A liability waiver in Florida must meet specific criteria to be enforceable: every waiver document must be clear, unambiguous, unequivocal, and specific.

  • Clarity. Clear text means the signee can understand the language used within the document.
  • Unambiguous. Unambiguous refers to using concrete terms, not terms open to several interpretations.
  • Unequivocal. Unequivocal refers to the specific situations in which the waiver applies.
  • Specific. Specific means that the terms address the details of the waiver as closely as possible.

If you and your Miami legal team can prove the legal contract doesn’t meet the necessary criteria to be valid, then you can file an injury lawsuit against the negligent parties instead of following the contract. A personal injury attorney can help you through this process.

Even if you have signed a valid liability waiver that blocks you from suing for accidents and negligence, you can usually still file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault parties for intentional harm. 

Under Florida law, you cannot waive your right to sue a party if their intentional misconduct caused your injuries. You may also be able to sue other entities and individuals not a party to the contract, such as the manufacturer of a negligent product or safety device or another participant or customer that caused your injury.

Florida Liability Waivers and Children 

Many parents worry that signing a liability waiver will prevent them from seeking damages if their child gets hurt while visiting an amusement park, riding a jet ski, or hanging with their friends at a trampoline park. This is a real and valid concern. However, Florida laws provide exceptions for minors who get hurt while participating in specific activities. Parents could still file a lawsuit seeking damages if the institution providing the activity acted with blatant or gross negligence. 

Florida Statute 744.301(3) allows parents to waive and release any potential legal claims on behalf of their minor children against commercial activity providers, their owners, affiliates, employees, or agents for personal injury that results from an inherent risk of the activity. The term “inherent risk” refers to the dangers that are characteristic, intrinsic, or integral to the activity, whether known or unknown.

For example, signing a waiver at a trampoline park releases the business from liability if your child gets hurt or injured. So, if another child bounces into them and they break their leg, you probably cannot sue the establishment for damages. You knew this inherent risk could happen when your child visited a trampoline park. However, if your child breaks their leg because a negligent employee did not tie down harnesses appropriately and they fell, then the signed release does not release the organization from their negligence.

Should I Sign a Waiver?

Whether or not to sign a liability waiver in Florida depends on the activity and the waiver’s specific language. In Florida, as in many other states, commercial activity providers, such as amusement parks, sports facilities, and rental companies, often use waivers to limit liability if a participant gets hurt.

If you are presented with a waiver, it is important to read it carefully and understand what you agree to. 

Before signing a waiver, consider the activity in question and the level of risk involved. If the activity is high-risk, such as bungee jumping or skydiving, you may want to consider the potential consequences of signing a waiver. On the other hand, if the activity is relatively low-risk, such as bowling or mini-golf, you may feel more comfortable signing a waiver.

Also, consider the business or establishment asking you to sign a waiver. If the organization or park seems understaffed, poorly run, dirty, or unkempt, this might raise red flags and make you think twice about releasing the business from liability. For example, if the park is overcrowded or you notice fraying and excessive wear and tear on the bungee cords and ropes, you might not want to sign a waiver.

In general, you should not sign a waiver if you have concerns about the business, how well it’s run, or its intentions. 

Help! I’ve Signed a Waiver and Got Hurt. What Can I Do?

If you signed a liability waiver, you would want a lawyer to review the document to determine whether it is legally binding and enforceable. A Miami personal injury attorney will look at the language used in the waiver to assess whether it clearly and unambiguously conveys that you waived your right to sue the liable party for any injury or damages that you may incur.

The lawyer will also review the specific circumstances surrounding the injury to determine whether the waiver covers the type of injury that you sustained. If the waiver only covers certain types of injuries or does not cover the specific injury you suffered, you may still have the right to file a lawsuit.

In some cases, a liability waiver may be deemed unenforceable if it violates public policy, is too broad or ambiguous, or if coercion or fraud was involved in obtaining the signature. A lawyer will investigate the circumstances under which you signed the waiver to determine if any of these factors are present.

Miami Personal Injury Attorney Handling Liability Waiver Cases in Florida

Liability waivers protect service providers such as businesses, sports clubs, and other entities fearful of liability in common jet ski accidents, boat accidents, and more. However, you should keep in mind there are legal avenues injury victims may be able to pursue even after signing a waiver. A skilled personal injury lawyer can guide you through the entire claim process if you are unsure what to do if you were injured in Florida. 

If the intentional actions of the at-fault parties caused you head injuries, back injuries, or any other harm, you need immediate legal assistance. To learn more about your potential claim in a free, confidential consultation, call Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA at (305) 694-2676 or fill out our confidential contact form.