Q Do I lose my rights in a recreational waiver?
Recreational waivers (or liability releases) are created to protect an entity from liability issues. You may have signed a recreational waiver when you went on a trip with a school or other organization, or participated in an event that involves a degree of physical risk. You may not realize it, but there is usually fine print on the back of concert tickets that addresses your waived rights when attending the event. They are legally binding contracts, but they are subject to state law. These waivers, if done properly, are usually drafted by a legal party that specifically addresses the risks at hand. Are you signing your rights away when you sign the waiver?
Yes, and no. It all depends on your unique circumstances. In North Carolina, recreational waivers may hold up in a court of law. Waivers in some states, like Virginia or Montana, have weak reputations, according to Recreation Management Magazine. North Carolina waiver releases will have a lesser chance of being enforced if there was an act of gross negligence, a minor completed the form without a parent or guardian's consent, or other unique factors outside the scope of normal risk. Under North Carolina law, courts will enforce waivers unless they are "violative of a statute, gained through inequality of bargaining power, or contrary to a substantial public interest."
This topic surfaced in 2012 after several drowning accidents in Goldsboro brought the community's attention to the risk waiver all individuals are required to sign before swimming in the park.
If you are concerned about a waiver you have signed, and experienced an injury or loss as a result of that party's negligence, feel free to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with one of our accident attorneys in Raleigh, Fayetteville or Dunn.