More than likely, we’ve all signed a liability waiver at least once in our lives. Even if you can’t think of a specific instance, chances are you agreed to one when you signed up for the gym, joined a recreational sports team, went skydiving, or attended a concert.
Liability waivers exist to protect a person or organization against liability for injuries that occur on their premises or during a hosted activity. By signing a waiver, you’re likely agreeing to give up your right to sue the parties mentioned in it for damages associated with your injuries.
Most people give as much thought to liability waivers as they do Terms of Service agreements – which is to say not much – but does signing one really mean you can’t seek compensation for a personal injury? Not always, as we’ll discuss below.
Criteria for a Valid Liability Waiver in Missouri
A liability waiver is a legal contract, which means it must meet certain criteria to guarantee its enforceability. These criteria for liability waivers were more or less defined in 1996 when the Missouri Supreme Court set a few limits on what a valid liability waiver contains.
In Missouri, liability waivers are binding only when the following criteria are met:
- The waiver is clear and unambiguous.
- The waiver contains clear, explicit language that waives an individual or entity’s liability.
- The parties’ intent to waive negligence is clearly and expressly stated.
- All parties were sufficiently informed of potential risks, permitting a “knowing” waiver of the stated risks?
If you signed a liability waiver that checks all of these boxes, then pursuing a personal injury lawsuit might be very difficult or impossible. That said, if there are any weaknesses in the agreement, those could provide your attorney the leverage he or she needs to successfully advocate for you.
It’s also important to note here that no waiver of liability can indemnify a party that caused injury while acting willfully, intentionally, or beyond mere negligence. Such gross acts of negligence can give rise to personal injury lawsuits in spite of liability waivers.