Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Monday, November 28, 2016

Waivers of Liability in New York

Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a nervous Nellie, being presented with a waiver or release of liability will probably make you think twice about the activity you are about to engage in. Although these documents are common when it comes to many of the heart palpitation inducing past times, such as zip lining and bungee jumping, you can also be asked to sign one when doing everyday things like going to the gym or playing a softball league. Regardless of the situation- you need to be familiar with waivers or releases of liability and understand how they affect your rights.

What is a waiver of liability and are they enforceable in New York?

A waiver or release of liability is a document that memorializes an agreement between two parties, that the participant in a certain activity will not hold the provider responsible for injuries sustained during said activity. Many people believe that if they are injured after signing a waiver of liability that they are out of luck and therefore cannot be compensated for their injuries. But, this is not always the case. While many waivers are enforceable, courts have often found that others are unfair and have therefore refused to uphold them.

In order for a waiver or release of this kind to be enforceable it must be clear and unambiguous, properly executed and voluntarily signed. It is important that the document is worded so that the signer can understand what rights he or she is waiving. He or she must also not be forced or tricked into signing the document. Waivers that fit these requirements are usually enforceable as long as they do not violate public policy. But, New York makes an exception for liability waivers signed when the participant pays to engage in a recreational activity. When a participant pays the court will usually void the release.

It is important to understand that whether a waiver is enforceable will be determined on a case-by-case basis. That is why, if you signed a waiver or release and were injured, you should have an experienced personal injury attorney review your case. You may still be able to recover for any injuries you sustained even if you signed one of these documents.

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