Does signing a piece of paper waive my rights?

If you’ve ever gone whitewater rafting, skiing, skydiving, or participated in any other outdoor adventure, the chances are that you’ve had to sign a liability waiver before you begin. (In the case of skiing, your lift ticket may include the waiver printed somewhere). Have you ever stopped to read the language? Or have you wondered what exactly it was you were signing?

Liability waivers are commonplace for most dangerous and recreational activities, largely because the operator or person assisting you in your adventure wants to ensure everyone is aware of the risks.

Included in most waivers are phrases like “assumption of risk” and “release of liability.” Both of these are aimed to put you on notice about the risks and dangers you might encounter on your adventure. In the case of “assumption of the risk,” the operator wants to ensure you know what dangers may be involved.

By having you initial or sign a clause that explains all the risks inherent in horseback riding and your acceptance of them, the riding company hopes that they will be able to show that you voluntarily assumed the risk of any potential injury that may occur.

The release of liability clause will typically say that you acknowledge that the operator can’t be held responsible if something goes wrong. While these terms are generally enforceable, they aren’t an absolute bar to recovery should you be injured. Oftentimes, if an accident occurs, there may be other factors at play that could be argued in court.

Speaking of court, the waivers generally state that the operator has a specific court that any lawsuit must be filed in and which state’s law will apply. If you’re signing in Colorado, it will likely specify Colorado law and Colorado courts are to be used.

Signing a waiver doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to recover if you’re injured, because experienced personal injury attorneys, like those in our firm, are trained to analyze waivers and cases to find a way to help you on the road to recovery. 

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