Trips to the local amusement park, sports facility, or other recreational establishment are as much a part of childhood as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. These outings are a fun time for all. However, in the anticipation of such an exciting day, parents don’t pay much attention to the dreaded paperwork they must sign before enjoying these types of activities. And while a cursory glance over the legal jargon and a quick signature may seem harmless, signing a liability waiver, especially one that contains an indemnification agreement, can be anything but harmless. Personal injury attorney, Steve Sinas, recently discussed the ins and outs of signing these waivers in a recent Morning Blend segment. If you’re a parent, here’s everything you should know.
What is a Liability Waiver?
Most often, establishments entertaining children require parents to sign a liability waiver. In short, a liability waiver is a signed agreement stating that, if any injury occurs at the establishment, parents cannot hold that facility liable.
There’s a little confusion regarding the legality of liability waivers. One Michigan court ruled that parents cannot sign away the child’s rights, therefore, the liability waiver is unenforceable. However, the Michigan legislature implemented a new law in 2011 which allows enforcement of liability waivers in instances of non-profit organizations. Beyond these types of establishments, enforcement of liability agreements is somewhat ambiguous regarding children.
What is an Indemnification Agreement?
Some liability waivers include an indemnification agreement. This agreement means that, if a child is injured and brings a suit against the organization, the parents must repay the organization for any money they pay on behalf of the injured child. Sound confusing? Here’s a brief breakdown of what this could mean for a Michigan family:
Liability Waiver with Indemnification Agreement in Action
- Emma’s parents take her to an indoor recreational center where they sign a liability waiver that contains an indemnification agreement.
- Emma is injured at the center and her parents bring a suit against the organization.
- The liability waiver, for whatever reason, is found to be unenforceable, therefore holds the organization accountable for her injuries.
- She is awarded a considerable personal injury verdict.
- However, the organization’s liability waiver contained an indemnification clause.
- Therefore, the organization brings a suit against her parents, in which they now have to pay not only their child’s injury compensation but also any legal fees incurred by the organization.
It’s a tough situation for any family to be in.
What Parents Can Do
While we all want our kids to have fun and make memories that last a lifetime, safety is key. The following are a few tips parents should always consider before taking their kids to these types of establishments:
1. Know what you’re signing. Understanding the paperwork and what it means is important.
2. Look closely for an indemnification agreement.
3. Understand the rules and safety information in place at the establishment designed to keep kids safe. Furthermore, use your best judgment and consider avoiding places that don’t have safety measures in place.
4. If the organization requires a liability waiver, pay particular attention to your child while at the establishment and avoid injury if at all possible.
If you or a loved one have been injured and need legal representation, our personal injury attorneys are here for you. Call us at 517.394.7500 or submit an online form and we’ll be in touch.