Youth Sports Liability Waivers Challenged

Before a child can participate in any sport, whether it is Little League, karate, or racing, their parent or guardian is typically required to sign a liability release form.

The intention of the documents is to protect the organizers of such programs from lawsuits if a child sustains personal injuries, but in the Supreme Court of Florida, the forms’ validity is being challenged. Some sports directors are now worried that youth sports could be in jeopardy if judges rule the forms to be no good.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, an international nonprofit organization for the prevention of unintentional childhood injuries, over 3.5 million children sustain personal injuries while playing sports each year. Some say that signing waivers are necessary for the protection of facilities, but others argue that it shows that games are unsafe without the threat of litigation.

The waivers are central to a case regarding the 2003 death of a teen in Clewiston, Florida.

In an all-terrain vehicle crash at Thunder Cross Motor Sports Park in Okeechobee, Florida, 14-year-old Christopher Jones died from the personal injuries he sustained. The boy’s father, Bobby Jones, signed a release before his son got on the track. However, Bette Jones, the boy’s mother who is divorced from his father, was unaware that her son was racing.

Bette Jones’ attorneys argue that it was unconstitutional for someone else to sign the rights of Christopher Jones away.

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