he Arizona Daily Star talked to Ted Schmidt this week about the validity of liability releases or waivers. You know, the forms you see or sign before engaging in any number of activities ranging from roller skating to skydiving to horseback riding to going to a baseball game. The question, "Do these releases mean anything?"
The answer, "It depends."
The waiver does not fully free the retailer of responsibility or liability, said Ted Schmidt, an attorney specializing in injury and wrongful-death cases at Kinerk, Schmidt & Sethi PLLC Attorneys.
"If the release does not have specifics of everything that could go wrong and if it doesn't spell it out, the families could hold them accountable," he said.
The person signing the waiver must also be told of the risks and how to prevent them, Schmidt said.
Whether a liability release or waiver is valid and precludes a claim for negligence will always be a question of fact. But a business looking to limit its potential exposure should use a clear, easy to understand release that explains the different risks involved in the activity. Ideally, the release would be presented by an employee who would also discuss the risks and have the document signed after some meaningful interaction. A boilerplate, hard to read and understand form that is signed in haste is less likely to be effective.
Ted was interviewed in connection with an article discussing the lack of safety regulations governing the rental of jumping castles, so popular at kid's birthday parties. In recent weeks, in two separate incidents, jumping houses were picked up in the wind and thrown airborne. Children inside each jumping castle were hurt.
You can read the entire article here.
And if you want to read more about liability releases and waivers, you can read Dev Sethi's article from theArizona Attorney here.