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Are Liability Waivers Enforceable in Virginia?

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Liability, or assumption of risk waivers are commonplace today. Whether you’re signing up for a recreational event, purchasing a gym membership, or another pay-to-play activity, you’ve probably been asked to sign a release. It absolves the business from any lawsuits arising from an injury you suffer while participating. These legal agreements are utilized and enforced in most states, but Virginia is largely an exception. Virginia’s Supreme Court has ruled that it will not enforce pre-injury liability waivers that violate the Commonwealth’s public policy.  

Most liability waivers are not enforceable in Virginia

This means that if you are hurt after signing a liability waiver, your personal injury attorney can sue the appropriate parties if their negligence caused your injuries. In the eyes of the law, liability waivers, or release forms, are fundamentally unfair to the participant– who is asked to waive their rights before the activity or event has even begun. In this way, they are unable to make an informed decision if the program, event, or facility is indeed safe and if proper measures have been taken to prevent needless injuries.

It’s important to note that the Virginia Supreme Court has upheld liability waivers in cases where the participant’s own actions caused their injury or harm to another. In these situations, the participant may be forced to reimburse legal fees incurred by the provider if they were later sued in court.

Voluntarily participating in dangerous activities

Another situation where the court may enforce a liability waiver is when a person knowingly participates in a dangerous activity such as race car driving, where serious and life-threatening accidents often occur. If the court views the activity as “inherently hazardous,” and the participant understood all risks and voluntarily chose to participate anyway, then they might not be afforded the same protections.

The next time you sign a liability waiver, remember that this does not automatically shield the provider from litigation when their negligence is involved.

Contact us for a free consultation

To learn more about your rights, contact the personal injury lawyers of Rutter Mills in Virginia for a free consultation.  You might qualify for money damages even if you signed a disclaimer.

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