What you Need to Know about Liability Waivers
** The Frickey Law Firm is located in Lakewood, Colorado. If your injury occurred in Colorado or you live here, we may be able to help with your personal injury or workers' compensation case. Otherwise, search Google for an attorney in your state.**
Whether you are renting an e-scooter, ordering an Uber, or hitting the slopes on a powder day, you may be surprised to find that you could be signing away your right to pursue compensation for an injury. In order to use an app or participate in an activity, you are often required to sign the service provider’s liability waiver.
A liability waiver, or release of liability, is a legal document that a company or organization has you sign in order to protect them from being sued in the event that you are injured. Many people, when handed such documents before participating in an activity or using a rideshare service app, hastily sign, not understanding the terms or the potential ramifications of waiving a service provider of liability.
How does a Liability Waiver Work?
When you sign a service provider’s liability waiver, you are agreeing not to hold the service provider responsible for any injury you may sustain as a result of ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence and gross negligence are the two types that factor into these types of cases.
- Ordinary negligence - Ordinary negligence refers to unsafe conditions that can arise even if a property owner or service provider is attempting to maintain a safe environment. This could be broken equipment, poor advice, or other unsafe conditions, and it could be unintentional.
- Gross negligence - Gross negligence refers to willful disregard for customer or participant safety. With gross negligence, a service provider is aware of a hazard but does not take action to mitigate the risk and protect those at the event or property.
Rideshare Liability Waivers
As rideshare services become more popular, many questions have come up regarding Uber and Lyft liability in cases of accidents and injuries. As a user of these transportation services, including e-scooters and bike sharing, it is important that you understand your rights. With both Uber and Lyft, as with many service-related apps, you are agreeing to terms and conditions by using the app.
Both Lyft and Uber include sections in their terms and conditions that remove their responsibility for any injury or damages. Additional terms apply to the use of e-scooter and bicycle rideshare services.
- Within the Uber Terms and Conditions, you’ll find a disclaimer that states that “You agree that the entire risk arising out of your use of the services...remains solely with you, to the maximum extent permitted under applicable law.”
- Within the Lyft Terms and Conditions, you’ll find it stated that Lyft is not liable for any type of damages, including damages arising from negligence.
Should I Sign a Liability Waiver?
Before signing another liability waiver, there are some things you should know. First, understand why a company would require that you sign a liability waiver. The two main purposes of a release of liability for a company are to:
- Document in writing that you have been warned of potential risks.
- Remove their responsibility for injuries that arise from ordinary negligence.
Second, always read the agreement carefully before signing. This seems like common sense, but often, liability waivers are presented at the very moment you are about to enter a venue, participate in an event, or use a service. In this situation, many people simply sign the waiver without reading or understanding the terms.
Third, in Colorado, liability waivers are frequently found to be legally binding, so you can’t count on the courts overturning the agreement in your favor. Waivers that meet the following criteria may leave you with no recourse if you sign:
- Clear language - The waiver clearly states that you absolve the service provider of all liability, including in cases of negligence.
- Format - The release of liability is easily identifiable and not hidden in a larger document or included in too small a font to be reasonable.
- Precise list - A waiver that lists specific risks or types of injuries for which you are releasing a service provider from liability is likely to be upheld if you suffer an stated injury.
- Signature - Your signature is a major part of validating an agreement. Note that with rideshare or other service apps, your use of the app often enters you into the agreement automatically.
- Legality - The waiver does not violate state law or public policy in terms of wording or content.
Can I Sue if I Signed a Liability Waiver?
It is possible that you can sue to recover damages even if you signed a release of liability. These cases are often complex, but there are a few general instances in which the waiver could be found invalid or you may have grounds to sue a negligent third party.
- Defective Products - If you were injured due to a defective product provided by the company or organization, you may be able to sue the manufacturer under product liability.
- Gross Negligence - Even if a waiver states that you agree not to hold the company responsible for injury, the courts may hold a company liable for injuries arising out of gross negligence in the case of extreme recklessness or disregard for safety.
- Misrepresentation - If a service provider misrepresents the service or activity, you may have a fraud case against the service provider, and the waiver may not be found to be enforceable.
What to do if you Signed a Waiver and were Injured
The first thing to do in any personal injury case is to seek medical treatment. Your visit to a healthcare professional is crucial for your well-being and to document the injury.
Any additional documentation and records you can gather can be helpful as well. This could include pictures of defective equipment, dangerous conditions, and contact information from witnesses.
Next, contact a personal injury attorney. It can take a significant amount of time, energy, and resources to recover damages in personal injury cases. An experienced lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of your injury, the validity of the waiver, and other factors to determine if you have a case.
At the Frickey Law Firm, we offer a free consultation to personal injury victims and will work on a contingent fee basis if we take your case. This means that you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we achieve a favorable outcome for you. Call us at 303-237-7373 to schedule your complimentary consultation. We serve clients in Denver, Lakewood, Boulder, and nearby areas of Colorado.