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What Is a Waiver of Liability?

People often have to sign a waiver of liability when going to an amusement park.
Scuba diving companies usually ask customers to sign a waiver of liability before they can participate in dives.
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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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A waiver of liability is a written or oral acknowledgement made by a person who is engaging in a risky pursuit. In making the acknowledgement, the person usually gives up his right to sue the other party if he suffers an injury, damages, or some other kind of loss while undertaking the activity. Typically, a waiver is signed when a person undertakes a pursuit that has a relatively large amount of risk associated with it, such as surgery, flying, bungee jumping, or the like.

In order for this type of waiver to be valid, evidence of consent to the waiver normally must exist. This can be either express or implied. An express waiver of liability is usually evidenced when someone has signed a written agreement releasing the other party from responsibility. For instance, an express waiver would exist if a skier signed a document releasing a skiing facility from legal liability if the skier suffers injuries while out on the slopes.

An implied waiver of liability, on the other hand, can be less clear. By and large, it occurs when someone’s actions support that he or she voluntarily waived the right to recover damages in the event of an injury or loss. An implied waiver situation may occur, for example, if someone attends a baseball game and is hit by a fly ball. It may be implied that, by attending the game, the person assumed the risk of being injured by a stray ball.

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A personal injury waiver of liability is one of the most common types of waivers. These releases are primarily used as a condition for participating in an activity by an entity that hosts certain recreational activities. An amusement park, a scuba diving company, a cruise ship, or a scooter rental company may all require their patrons to sign personal injury waivers. Essentially, by signing one of these releases, a person gives up the right to sue if he or she suffers personal injuries as a result of engaging in the specified activity.

Some courts don’t view waiver of liability provisions favorably because these clauses have the potential to allow a negligent party to avoid responsibility for negligent or reckless behavior. In other words, a waiver attempts to make the waiving party solely responsible for his or her injuries — even if those injuries were caused by the non-waiving party. Given this issue, some courts do not enforce waivers at all while other courts enforce with great caution.

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Discuss this Article

anon934597
Post 9

I'm putting a new roof on my house. The roofers don't have insurance. What kind of waiver do I need to protect myself from any liability?

anon930954
Post 8

I need some repair done on my outside chimney on the second level of my home. Is it enough to hire a company that signs a waiver or should I only hire a company that is insured?

anon308563
Post 7

What kind of a waiver is required to ride a rocketbelt for about 33 seconds?

anon277711
Post 6

How about waiver of liability for a pre-employment background check? Why would that be considered "risky" behavior? Why should I have to waive my rights just for employment?

anon201144
Post 5

I signed a waiver for my kid to go to jujitsu. Now, the young instructors are taking risks with my kid, and I'm stuck because we signed a contract.

ZsaZsa56
Post 4

I was really intrigued by the last paragraph in the article that talk about how waivers of liability can be abused. I can see how this could be a huge issue under certain circumstances. What if you sign up to go sky diving and the company gives you an old, defective parachute that fails to deploy?

They could argue that you understood the risks and signed a form releasing them from responsibility. On the other hand, I think these waivers often imply that the party offering the service will make every effort to ensure that it is safe and managed responsibly. It seems like there is a lot of legal grey area here. I can imagine long and heated court room debates trying to place responsibility.

GreenWeaver
Post 3

@Cupcake15 - You would be surprised how many kids do get hurt. I think that a lot of those inflatable water slides are really dangerous. I remember my children went to a party that had a large inflatable water slide and my son had to be rushed to the hospital because the boy that rode immediately behind him bumped into him and had his mouth opened when he slipped and hit my son on the head.

He needed to have stitches on his head and it was really scary. I have to say that even the inflatable bounce houses have to be monitored because if they have too many kids in them the children can get hurt. After this experience, I would not have any of these inflatables at a party because of the risk of children getting hurt as well as the risk of potential liability.

cupcake15
Post 2

I usually have to sign a liability release for my kids to be able to play sports. It you read one of these liability forms it can be really intimidating. In fact they even include a liability release from death which was really shocking to see in print.

I know that a lot of the local roller rinks have the parents sign a waiver of liability form in case one of their children gets hurt on the roller rink floor. I have personally never seen anyone get hurt on a roller rink floor, but it is always a good idea for a business to cover itself just in case with a waiver of liability release.

Bhutan
Post 1

I wanted to say that every year I have to sign a general waiver of liability when my kids go back to school in order for them to go on field trips. The school likes to have the parents sign one liability waiver form instead of several throughout the year for each individual field trip.

It makes it easier for the school to make sure that they have a waiver form on file for each child that goes on a field trip.

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