Recreation and Litigation: Liability Waivers and Your Right to Sue for Injuries Sustained During Recreational Activities

April 25, 2014

Think twice before you sign liability waivers because you may be giving up your right to compensation for your injuries.

A liability waiver (sometimes called a “release” or “release agreement”) is a contract by which a participant in a recreational activity agrees not to sue the business facilitating that activity.  An increasing number of businesses offering recreational activities and services now require that participants sign liability waivers prior to using the business’ facilities or equipment.  And it is not just once-in-a-lifetime activities like bungee jumping or skydiving that may require a liability waiver; many recreational businesses in the Cleveland area and throughout the country may now require that you give up some or all of your rights to sue if you are injured, including:

  • Trampoline parks
  • Go-kart facilities
  • Jet ski rentals
  • Paintball fields
  • Gyms

Be careful what you sign.  Under Ohio law, liability waivers are enforceable.  This means that if, before participating in a recreational activity, you sign a liability waiver stating that you will not hold the business legally responsible for your injuries, the business may be able to avoid paying you compensation even though your injuries were caused by of the negligence of the business or its employees.

If you have been injured during a recreational activity, though, do not let the existence of a liability waiver keep you from seeking legal counsel.  You may still be entitled to compensation despite the release agreement.

Release agreements must conform to the rules of contract, and may be void if they are deficient.

Further, Ohio law provides that liability waivers cannot absolve a business of liability for willful or wanton misconduct, or for intentional tortious conduct.  Whether willful or wanton misconduct or intentional tortious conduct has occurred requires a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding your injury.  Therefore, if you are injured participating in a recreational activity and have signed a liability waiver, you should still contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation and your rights.

If you or a loved one has been injured participating in a recreational activity, contact the experienced Cleveland law firm, Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA, for a free telephone consultation.

Back To Blog