waive right to sue for negligence

If you signed a liability waiver but later sustained injuries, you might believe you have no legal recourse. In Washington, you might still have the right to pursue legal action, however, depending on the details of your case.

Liability waivers are commonly used in health clubs, amusement parks, heavy equipment rental, and other situations where people face a known or inherent risk of sustaining physical harm. Even if you signed an agreement waiving your right to sue for negligence, you still retain some legal rights to seek recourse.

An experienced Washington personal injury lawyer can review the details of your case and explain your options for seeking financial compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Can You Waive Negligence in Washington?

Although some U.S. states restrict the use of liability waivers, Washington’s laws allow private parties the freedom to enter into mutually agreeable contracts. Liability and negligence waivers typically fall under this concept.

Some of the most common circumstances where you might be asked to waive the right to sue for negligence include:

  • Gyms and health clubs,
  • Amusement parks,
  • Haunted houses,
  • Construction equipment rentals,
  • Sports leagues,
  • Watercraft or ATV rentals,
  • Skydiving,
  • Bungee jumping,
  • Adventure tours,
  • Trampoline parks, and
  • Skating rinks.

In most cases, any individual or business that asks you to sign a liability waiver—especially if they refuse to transact business or allow participation unless you do—knows you face an increased risk of injury. You may be asked to waive liability because the company’s insurance requires it or because they want to reduce their risk of being sued.

You can freely waive liability in Washington, but only to an extent. No matter what kind of liability waiver you sign, it might be thrown out in court if it does not meet the legal requirements established by Washington law.

When Can You Sue After Signing a Release?

Even if you state in writing that you waive the right to sue for negligence, liability waivers must comply with Washington’s established legal standards. Hold harmless agreements, exculpatory clauses, releases of liability, and negligence waivers may be voidable or invalid if any of the following circumstances apply.

The Waiver Violated Public Policy

Any exculpatory clause or negligence waiver that could be harmful to the public may violate public policy. For example, if the party requiring a waiver provides an essential public service (medical treatment professionals, public schools, public utility companies, housing providers), the waiver would violate public policy. Other complex legal factors must be considered in determining whether a waiver violated public policy. An experienced attorney can evaluate the details of your case to identify potential violations of this standard.

The Waiver Was Inconspicuous

To be enforceable, waivers must contain clear language that any reasonable person would interpret the same way. The format of the waiver must be set apart from other components of an agreement. The language of the waiver itself must be specific to the activity in question. The waiver must have clear headings, preferably with bold text, capital letters, or another means of making it clearly identifiable. The waiver must have a signature line directly beneath the relevant waiver language, and it must be clear that the signer is indicating agreement with that language specifically.

Burying a liability release in the middle of a contract without bringing attention to it could potentially render the waiver void, as could having a single signature at the bottom of a contract with multiple provisions.

Defendant’s Actions Were Grossly Negligent 

If the at-fault party’s actions were much more serious than mere negligence, this fact could render the waiver invalid. The legal standard of gross negligence can be difficult to prove. However, a personal injury attorney can advise you as to whether you may have been the victim of gross negligence and, thus, be entitled to pursue legal action.

If you do have the right to pursue an insurance claim or civil lawsuit, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment, lost income, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer in Washington State Today

Can you sue after signing a waiver? The answer will depend on the details of your case. Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer can provide you with the answers and information you need.

In Washington, the personal injury attorneys of Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, understand how frightening and confusing your situation can be. We offer a no-cost case analysis designed to get you the information you deserve. To learn more, call us at 509-822-2189 or contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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