Can you make a personal injury claim if you have signed a waiver?
Sign…. Before you Jump!
Waivers appear to be everywhere: trampoline parks; bouncy castles; parachute/bungee jumps; charity obstacle courses; even children’s sports days for the parents’ 100m dash!; even before your first work out at the gym!
You may be asked to sign a waiver before undertaking these or a similar event, but are they legal?
Why do people make you sign a waiver for personal injury?
By signing a waiver, organisers of these events or gym owners, may believe that they are ensuring that you are waiving your right to bring a personal injury claim against them, should you sustain an injury while taking part in an event, working out in the gym or doing an activity.
It is of course possible that if you are doing any of the above activities you could sustain an injury. The injury may or may not be as a result of someone else’s negligence, but if it is you are likely to still be able to bring a claim.
A waiver will not protect the organisation (or prevent you from making a claim) if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence. For example, simply falling off a piece of equipment will not entitle you to bring a claim for a personal injury but if you fall of a piece of equipment that was poorly constructed due to the organisers’ negligence then it may well do. Furthermore, if an injury is sustained during a bungee or parachute jump, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim if you had not been provided with adequate equipment, by the organiser, required to keep you safe.
So does this mean you are not able to make a personal injury claim?
Although a waiver is legal, it is misleading. An organiser or business owner cannot exclude or restrict liability for personal injury or death caused by negligence. This is set out in the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. Businesses such as gyms and event organisers must comply with the various sections of this Act.
In short if you sustain an injury as a result of negligence then there are strong legal arguments which would mean that the disclaimer would not be enforceable and you would still be able to make a personal injury claim.
As with any accident, if you are not sure of your rights, the best thing to do would be to speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor who will be able to advise you on whether you have a claim for compensation.