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Does Signing a Waiver Mean I Can’t File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

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It’s not uncommon for businesses like rock climbing gyms, zip line operators and other recreational businesses to ask patrons to sign waivers absolving the companies from liability when injuries occur on their property. But did you know that waivers are not necessarily ironclad? Signing a waiver does not necessarily void your right to file a lawsuit.


If you are injured at an event that required you to sign a personal injury waiver, your attorney can examine the waiver to determine if it is actually enforceable. Here are just a few things we look at to make this determination:

  • The language of the waiver. Waivers with vague or ambiguous language may not be enforceable.
  • The location of critical language. Think of this like a fine print clause. If information critical to the business’s liability is hidden away in some fine print that the signer could reasonably be expected not to have seen, the waiver may not be enforceable.
  • The cause of the accident. Some acts simply cannot be waived, including intentional harmful actions, gross negligence or acts that give the business strict liability.
  • Where you live. Different states have different policies regarding waivers.
  • The age of the signer. The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled that, if a child signs a waiver, typically that waiver is unenforceable. This is different, however, if a parent signs the waiver for the child. In many of those situations, the business is not liable for the child’s injury.

Proverbs 12:25, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad.”