Enforceability of Release of Liability Forms in California
Many of us have encountered some type of release or waiver of liability form throughout our lives. Whether it is for youth sports, joining a gym or using a private banquet facility, these forms are everywhere. If you get injured, though, is the release enforceable in court? Well, it depends on the circumstances.
A pre-event release of liability form may negate the duty of the party requesting your release of liability ("the releasee") to act with reasonable care for your safety on the premises. This "duty" is an essential element to a successful negligence action. The result is that you may have expressly consented to relieve the party requesting release of an obligation of care towards your safety.
For such a release to be effective, it must be clear, unambiguous and explicit in expressing the intent of the parties. Many issues arise, however, surrounding what the parties intended to agree upon. These issues include whether the release contains any ambiguities that provide for alternative meanings of the words in the release, whether the release is clear and explicit or whether the scope of a release covers the particular negligence that caused a party's injury.
All of these issues depend on the specific language of the release, the context within which the release was signed and the inherent risks associated with the sport or event you are attending.
If you have been injured, signing a waiver may not preclude your recovery. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will help you determine whether you have a case.