If you have ever participated in any kind of outdoor adventure activity, you are probably familiar with liability release waivers. Unfortunately, persons injured as a result of an outdoor adventure activity may not understand that the waiver does not always prevent you from filing a lawsuit.
I have a client who was injured while participating in a zip line tour in Western North Carolina. She was instructed to allow herself to get a lot of speed on her way to the landing platform of the zip line. She approached the landing platform with speed, and the instructor who was supposed to catch her at the platform stepped out of the way, allowing her to crash into the wooden platform. She was seriously injured and suffers from permanent scarring. My client was concerned about whether she could recover for her injuries despite the fact that she had signed a liability release prior to participating in the zip line activity. Liability waivers are common in many recreational activities. Some examples are sports leagues, amusement park rides, go kart rides, zip lines, canopy tours, and rafting or canoeing trips. Liability waivers usually release a party from any liability for injuries resulting from participation in the activity.
Under North Carolina law, signed liability waivers are generally enforceable – and operate to prevent an injured party from recovering for an injury. However there are many exceptions to this law. First, a release is not enforceable if signed under mutual mistake of the parties, fraud, or oppression. Second, releases are not enforceable with respect to activities in the “public interest” – activities that are considered heavily regulated by state authorities. Finally, liability releases generally cannot waive liability for intentional acts, or acts that constitute a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
In my client’s case, the actions of the instructor who moved out of the way when my client approached that landing platform constituted a conscious disregard for the safety of my client. Consequently, her signed release will not bar her claim for personal injury.
If you were injured in an activity in which you signed a liability waiver, contact me directly at 828-333-5024 to find out if the waiver is enforceable. You may still be able to file a lawsuit and recover for your injuries.
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James Minick is a criminal defense attorney in Asheville, NC and is the owner of Minick Law, P.C.