Can You Sue if You Signed a Liability Waiver in Illinois? | Staver
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Can You Sue if You Signed a Liability Waiver in Illinois?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Personal Injury, Premises Liability

From amusement parks to axe-throwing bars, plenty of venues require waivers in Illinois. Liability waivers are contracts that protect a business from legal consequences if you’re injured on the property.

You might consider them to be a tedious step before a thrilling activity. Many of us sign a waiver without a second thought, and often, nothing terrible happens.

But what if something does? Can you still sue if you get hurt?

Is it the Company’s Responsibility or Mine?

Before moving forward with a case, you should understand the difference between inherent risk and company negligence. Whichever played a part in your injuries will determine if you have a claim and who caused them.

Inherent Risk

Inherent risk is a foreseeable danger of an activity. When you agree to participate, you assume the inherent risks, and the company cannot be liable for them.

For example, you understand that by going on a rollercoaster, you might lose consciousness on a sudden drop or get whiplash during a fast turn.

Company Negligence

Every business must provide guests with specific protections on their premises. Company negligence is a business’s failure to uphold this duty of care.

Companies should maintain equipment, train employees appropriately, and ensure they meet safety requirements. They should also have measures in place to prevent crime and accidents on the property as much as possible.

If a company does not keep guests reasonably safe, it may be held liable if a visitor is injured due to negligence.

An example of company negligence is failing to repair a rollercoaster’s lap restraint, which causes a rider to fall.

Elements of Liability Waivers

Waivers are not just a courtesy—they are legally binding documents. When you sign, you surrender the right to take legal action against the company after an accident.

Liability waivers should include:

  1. A description of the activities you will be participating in and their inherent risks.
  2. A clear statement that if you sign, you assume these risks and will comply with company rules.
  3. A clear statement about the release of liability, including who is exempt from liability.
  4. Your signature (or the signature of a parent/legal guardian if you are a minor).
  5. The date you signed the waiver.
  6. A statement that your signature means you read and understood the waiver and signed it of your own volition.

Sometimes, a witness’s signature and emergency contact information are also required.

Hidden Clauses

Hidden clauses are details in the fine print of a waiver. Not every release has them, but many do.

Hidden clauses might state that you waive certain legal rights by signing the document, including the right to sue or claim damages.

They may also include an indemnification clause, which is an agreement that you will partially pay for the company’s defense costs if you do anything that forces them to go to court.

Hidden clauses are a way to include necessary information without making it obvious to the signer. You should read the fine print of any document you sign, especially when there is a risk of injury.

When Can I Sue?

Liability waivers are not impenetrable. In rare cases, a signer could still sue a company for damages.

For example, a liability waiver may not hold up in court if:

  • The release was worded ambiguously or incorrectly
  • The release was missing necessary content
  • The correct party did not sign the waiver
  • Something outside the waiver caused your injuries, such as a defective product or assault
  • You were coerced into signing or signed under fraudulent circumstances
  • You were injured due to company negligence or recklessness

How a Lawyer Can Help

There are ways a liability waiver can be ineffective. However, it is rare for a company to overlook potential loopholes. Many consult with lawyers to ensure a waiver is valid before giving it to guests. It is likely that if you signed a release, you cannot sue.

On the other hand, factors such as negligence are harder for companies to dismiss. A waiver does not protect them from liability if they fail to keep guests safe.

It is essential to talk to a lawyer even if you’re unsure about your case.

If you have a case, your lawyer can supplement your liability claim or lawsuit with crucial evidence. They may obtain a copy of the waiver to point out dubious statements or hire experts to investigate the accident scene for any safety violations. You are not without legal recourse.

Contact An Illinois Premises Liability Lawyer Today

If you’re injured on a property after signing a waiver, you may wonder how it impacts your case. Illinois premises liability laws can be complicated. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you toward the next steps. The experienced premises liability attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. are here to help pursue compensation and lift your financial burden after an accident.

Call Staver today at (312) 270-0386 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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