Signing a Waiver Doesn’t Mean Surrendering All Your Rights

Apr 9, 2024

Imagine you’re at an adventure park, ready to bungee jump off a cliff. A staff member hands you a clipboard with a liability waiver. You skim through the legalese, scribble your signature, and get ready to jump. But does that signature mean you’ve surrendered all your rights? Not quite. In fact, many people mistakenly think that they lose all rights to file an injury claim if they sign a liability waiver.  

But first, what is a liability waiver?  

A liability waiver is a legally binding contract in which a person agrees not to hold another party responsible or liable for harm, injury, or damages that may occur in certain circumstances. These waivers are commonly used in various situations where there is a potential for risk or injury, such as extreme sports, recreational activities, medical treatments, or other types of events.

Some examples of activities where you may encounter liability waivers include:  

  • Extreme sports: Before activities like skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing, or snowboarding, participants often sign liability waivers. These waivers protect organizers, instructors, or facilities from being held responsible for injuries or accidents during these high-risk activities.  
  • Recreational facilities: Places like gyms, fitness centers, swimming pools, and trampoline parks may require visitors to sign liability waivers. These aim to release facility owners from liability in case of injuries or accidents on their premises.  

So, I signed a lability waiver. What if I get injured?  

By signing a liability waiver, you acknowledge the potential risks involved. But that doesn’t mean you lose all your rights.  

IMPORTANT! Even if you sign a waiver, it does not exempt the business or other party from being liable in cases of negligence, willful harm, or recklessness. Operators or business owners may seek to exclude liability though other means as well, such as posted signs, tickets, or other contractual agreements.   

Some examples where a business or operator may be held liable include:  

  • Gross negligence: This is a legal term that refers to extreme carelessness or reckless behavior (i.e. the bungee cord snapping because someone forgot to inspect it.) If the park knew about the faulty cord and still let you jump, they’ve crossed into gross negligence territory. In these cases, a waiver does not erase their responsibility.  
  • Intentional harm: Let’s say you’re at a trampoline park. Suddenly, an employee pushes you mid-air, causing a painful landing. That may be considered intentional harm. Even if you signed a waiver, the park can’t hide behind it. They intentionally caused harm, and waivers don’t grant immunity for such actions.  
  • Reckless behavior: Waivers don’t cover reckless conduct. For instance, if the rock-climbing instructor encourages you to scale Mount Everest without ropes, they’re likely to be held liable regardless of any waivers that you may have signed.  

These are just a few examples, but there are many others. In order for liability waivers to be legally effective, they require two aspects:  

    1. The exclusion clauses (i.e. disclaimer) must refer to the circumstances of the accident and must exclude liability for risks or injuries.  
    2. The operator must take reasonable steps to bring the exclusion or waiver to the attention of the participant, so they understand the risks.   

If you sign a waiver, that does not automatically mean you have no legal recourse. If something goes wrong and you are injured, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer.  

DID YOU KNOW? In Alberta, you generally have up to two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury claim, or your right to do so is lost forever. But it’s important not to wait, as there may be other important deadlines or circumstances that may affect the deadline or your claim.  

Injured After Signing a Liability Waiver? Can You File an Injury Claim?  

If the other party’s negligence or recklessness caused your injury, you may have grounds to file an injury claim. Remember, signing a waiver doesn’t mean surrendering all your rights. Personal injury lawyers understand the nuances of liability waivers and can help you to make an informed decision.  

Have questions?  

Contact us to speak with our legal team today. Consults are always free. If a claim isn’t in your best interest, we’ll always tell you. And if you do file a personal injury claim, you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case.  


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    IMPORTANT! If you agree to an insurance company’s settlement offer, you give up your legal right to pursue a personal injury claim. It is best to assess the full extent of your injuries and how they will affect your life before you accept an offer. Please note that you have a maximum of two years from the date of the accident to file an injury claim in Alberta.

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