We’ve all been there.
We gather nine of our best buds to go rock climbing. So we roll up to the rock climbing establishment. First thing, a large stack of papers to sign. What gives? We just want to go rock climbing!
So we just sign the papers without reading them and then go rock climbing. No big deal, right?
We all know how tempting it can be to skip over a lengthy document. Especially when you’re about to do something awesome like rock climbing or white water rafting, maybe even preparing to eat a pound of chicken wings so hot that the restaurant requires that you sign a waiver.
Here’s the thing though – the paperwork you sign, it really does matter.
Regardless of the activity, your lawyer will have a difficult time defending your claim for injury once you have signed a document stating “I understand the risks involved with this activity”.
This is due to the long-standing legal defence, “Volenti Non Fit Injuria” – or “Voluntary Assumption of Risk.”
Simply put, because you have voluntarily waived injury responsibility, the Defendant can argue that you accepted the risks, and therefore they don’t owe you any money.
However, it’s not always this simple.
Your lawyer does have ways in which they can attack the Volenti defence. Signing a waiver doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t bring a lawsuit. Depending on the waiver itself and/or what the Defendant or their staff says to you, there may be options to dispute the defence.
All of this is simply stated to drive home one simple point – the waivers you sign matter. Wherever possible, it is worth your time to read any document you are being asked to sign, especially if you’re being asked to sign immediately before engaging in an inherently dangerous activity.
Every case and every waiver are different.
Every set of circumstances leading up to signing a waiver is different. If you ever have questions about whether or not a waiver impacts a potential personal injury claim, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the various legal and factual factors which impact your case.