Can You Really Be Held to that Personal Injury Waiver?
It’s often in the fine print. If you’ve visited an amusement park or even a gym, you may signed some type of personal injury waiver. You may not even realize it. What does it mean? Can you still sue an entity that had you sign a personal injury waiver?
Let’s look at a recent court case involving a trampoline park. News reports tell the story of a Bergen County child who was injured while jumping at Sky Zone in Pine Brook. It likely sounded like a good place for young ones to let out some energy. Unfortunately, the little boy suffered injury and the parents wanted to pursue a lawsuit on his behalf.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park is actually owned and operated by a company named Go Ahead and Jump, LLC. In order for their children to use the trampoline facilities, parents are required to sign a document. The paperwork has some language that sounds like an obvious deterrent against lawsuits. It was cited in the New Jersey Appellate Division’s unpublished opinion as follows:
….In trampoline games or activities, I for myself and on behalf of my child(ren) and/or legal ward, heirs, administrators, personal representatives, or assigns, do agree to hold harmless, release and discharge SZITP of and from all claims, demands, causes of action, and legal liability, whether the same be known or unknown, anticipated or unanticipated, due to SZITP’s ordinary negligence; and I, for myself and on behalf of my child(ren) and/or legal ward, heirs, administrators, personal representatives, or any assigns, further agree that except in the event of SZITP’s gross negligence and willful and wanton misconduct, I shall not bring any claims, demands, legal actions and causes of action, against SZITP for any economic and non-economic losses due to bodily injury, death, property damage sustained by me and/or my minor child(ren) that are in any way associated with [defendant’s] trampoline games or activities. Should SZITP or anyone acting on [its] behalf be required to incur attorney’s fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I for myself and on behalf of my child(ren), and/or legal ward, heirs, administrators, personal representatives or assigns, agree to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs.
What Does this Personal Waiver Actually Mean?
To most non-lawyers, the foregoing sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. In fact, we suspect most people don’t even bother to read through these types of document. Further down, the same “participation agreement” states the forum for disputing the terms of the signed document. They must submit to arbitration.
And, just to make certain that parents get the point? In bold print, the document goes on to say that parties waive their rights to pursue a claim for personal injury.
The Appellate Division took issue with the clause related to arbitration. It determined that the agreement was unclear and referred the matter to trial.
Bottom line: The agreement required by some amusement ventures is not necessarily valid. There is good reason to seek experienced legal advice if you or a loved one is injured at such a location.
We can help you. If you try to pursue a claim of this nature on your own, you may be dissuaded. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have more than two decades of experience handling personal injury cases. Contact us to learn your legal rights.