If you or your child are about to participate in a risky activity — from scuba diving to sky diving or anything in between — you will almost certainly be required to sign a waiver of your right to sue the facility or event sponsor in case of injury. Most likely you will sign it without asking any questions — at least, not out loud. Inside, however, you may be wondering: If I get hurt, am I really up a creek?

The entity asking you to sign, of course, certainly hopes so. But the truth is, signing a waiver rarely means you agree to endure any imaginable level of irresponsibility on the part of your host. If you (or your child) sustain an injury, whether you have a case depends on the difference between ordinary negligence and what the law calls willful or wanton misconduct. If you can prove the injury was the result of exceptionally egregious or outrageously dangerous actions by the host, you may still be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Other key concepts in determining when a signed waiver may not stand in court include:

 

  • If the waiver is in direct opposition to a law passed by the Georgia legislature or to the public good generally
  • If the waiver was designed to facilitate illegal or immoral activity
  • If the waiver was signed under duress or undue influence
  • If the waiver lacks clear and explicit reference to the types of activities, circumstances or situations it covers
  • If the defendant took specific action that intentionally deceived the signer or prevented the signer from reading or understanding the terms of the waiver (e.g., by using hard-to-read type or failing to allow sufficient time to review the waiver)
  • If the injury was a result of willful misconduct on the part of defendant, such as knowingly providing faulty equipment
  • If the waiver was signed by the parent of an injured child who later chooses to file suit