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Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law
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Can I Sue Even if I Signed a Liability Waiver?

Visitors to New Mexico and residents alike enjoy the many outdoor activities and extreme sports available across the state. Whether you enjoy skiing, horseback riding, or rock climbing, you’ve likely been forced to sign a liability waiver to participate in many of these activities. Many recreational activities are considered inherently dangerous, even if you may not think they pose a risk to you or your family. Because these activities are considered to carry a level of danger, companies often require users to “assume the risk” instead of holding the vendor liable. When a participant signs a liability waiver, they assume the risk and acknowledge they could be injured. The purpose of these contracts is to provide protection from lawsuits to companies offering risky activities to the public. The protections provided to the operator by a liability waiver can vary, but they generally hold the proprietor harmless and free from liability if the participant is injured. Participants injured while enjoying these activities often believe they cannot seek compensation if the company or staff causes their injuries, and this is not always the case.

What is a Liability Waiver?

We’ve all likely signed a liability waiver for one thing or another. Waivers are more common than you think. When sending your kids on a field trip or even to daycare, they are usually required. You’ve likely even signed one for using your local workout facility. Did you know that when you attend a baseball game or take your family to an amusement park, you’ve agreed to a liability waiver – usually printed on your entrance stub? Liability waivers represent an agreement between a user and provider. The user agrees to release the provider from liability for injuries incurred while participating in various activities on their premises. These agreements are important because consumers usually have a right to hold various facilities, vendors, and proprietors liable for injuries and damages in normal circumstances.

Waivers and Liability Claims

A liability waiver isn’t a blanketed protection for property owners. They usually provide a list of injuries and accidents they are not responsible for in the case of an accident. The included exclusions are typically the most common risks associated with the activity. So, for example, if you are riding a roller coaster at an amusement park and suffer a heart attack caused by the speed and intensity of the ride, the waiver may include protections for the amusement park stating the user accepts responsibility for the risk. The waiver also includes a list of common risks consumers must acknowledge. Waivers do not typically cover uncommon accidents and incidents, like injury or death from faulty or unmaintained equipment. Many victims are unaware waivers don’t usually cover these types of injuries, so if you can prove your injuries were caused by a defective device being operated by a proprietor, they could be considered liable for your injuries.

Liability Waivers in Court

Whether or not a liability waiver will hold up in court depends on the injury and how it was caused. Inherently dangerous activities are not universally agreed upon, so a proprietor may be protected from legal action in some instances and not in others. A well-written liability waiver may be challenging to maneuver around, but the final say will depend on how the court interprets the contract.

A liability waiver must meet the following criteria to be upheld:

  • Adhere to public policy and state law
  • Follow New Mexico contract law in language and spirit
  • Clearly define all disclaimed risks that will be assumed by consumers

The viability of any claim will rest on the strength of the waiver. You may sustain a severe injury from a recreational activity and wonder what that means for you and your family. If you think your injury was not from the inherent danger of the activity but proprietor negligence, the Albuquerque personal injury team at Michael Doyle, Attorney at Law, can help. Signing an exculpatory waiver to participate in many outdoor activities is a must, but that doesn’t mean you are without options if you’re injured. Fighting a liability waiver personal injury case is complex, and you need a committed attorney to get the job done. Call our Albuquerque personal injury attorneys at (505) 219-2176 to schedule a consultation.