Is Your Company’s Waiver Document Effective?
Typically in Virginia, a pre-negligence waiver is ineffective. In layman’s terms, that means if you go to a trampoline park and sign a waiver before jumping on the trampolines, the waiver does not serve to release the trampoline park from liability for its negligence if you later get injured.
However, according to a recent case from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Harrisonburg Division, a jury can consider at least portions of a signed release for a limited purpose. The limited purpose? To show that the injured person, James McConnel of Harrisonburg, knew there were risks inherent to playing Segway Polo in the hotel’s ballroom.
The judge ruled that the portions of the release that are “void as against public policy” would have to be redacted, but that the jury could review the remainder of the release. The decision is available on the Virginia Lawyers Weekly website at: McConnel v. Omni Hotels Management Corp. (VLW 017-3-356)
Even though pre-liability releases may not be effective to waive or release liability entirely, there are still several good reasons for businesses to use waiver and release forms:
(1) They encourage participants to behave in a more careful manner,
(2) They can reduce the number of lawsuits filed,
and, as shown in the McConnel v. Omni Hotels case,
(3) They can provide evidence that a participant was aware of and accepted the risks of the activity.
Does your business use waivers? If you’d like to have an attorney draft a waiver and release document for you, or review the release document you are currently using, contact us at (703) 583-6060, or reach out to Jason Hickman or Heather Steele.