A girl helping her friend check her injured ankle while sitting on the running track

Waivers and School-Related Injuries – Know Your Rights

If you have a school-age child, you have probably already signed a waiver of liability or assumption of risk waiver for your child to go on a field trip, participate in a school sport, or take part in another school activity. Schools and businesses use liability waivers to limit their liability for a variety of activities. However, do these waivers prevent lawsuits for all school-related injuries? The best way to know for sure is to consult a California personal injury attorney.

Are You Required to Sign a Waiver of Liability?

These waivers are an acknowledgment of an assumption of risk. Liability waivers release the school from any liability for an injury sustained by your child while participating in the activity. The waiver is non-negotiable. You are not required by law to sign the waiver; however, the school has the right to refuse to allow your child to participate in the activity if you do not sign the waiver. If for some reason your child participates without signing a waiver, you might still be barred from filing a lawsuit because your child knowingly and willingly participated in a potentially risky activity.

Does a Liability Waiver Apply in All Cases?

No, there are certain types of injuries and incidents in which a liability waiver would not bar you from filing a personal injury lawsuit.

In most cases, courts hold that the liability waivers do not apply in cases involving gross negligence or intentional wrongful acts. The waiver does apply in cases involving ordinary negligence. Therefore, you would need to prove that the school acted without any care or concern for the student or the actions were an “extreme departure” from the actions that a “reasonably careful person” would do to prevent harm given the same situation.

Contesting a Liability Waiver After an Accident

After an injury, you may want to contest the validity of a liability waiver if gross negligence was involved. Also, a liability waiver must meet all the other requirements for waivers in California. For example, a waiver that is “hidden” in the document may not be enforceable, such as waivers buried somewhere deep within the document, printed in extremely small print, or placed on the back of a page with no other terms or conditions. The waiver must also be explicit and unambiguous to be valid.

Because courts uphold liability waivers in many injury cases, it is important to seek legal advice if your child is injured in a school-related activity. An attorney can review the liability waiver and investigate the incident to determine if the incident involved gross negligence.

Protecting Your Child During School Functions and School Sports

The most important priority is keeping your child safe during school activities. Some steps you can take to protect your child include:

  • Make sure children wear appropriate clothing and shoes.
  • Check all safety equipment and ensure that children use safety equipment for all practices and games.
  • Talk to children about the importance of following rules to avoid injuries.
  • Ensure enough adults will be in attendance to provide adequate supervision during all school functions and activities.
  • Check playgrounds and equipment your child will be using to ensure it is maintained and safe.
  • Talk to your child’s physician regarding sports-related safety issues.
  • Stay involved in your child’s education by attending functions, meetings, activities, practices, and games.

Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney for Additional Information

If you have questions about a school-related injury, contact us today for a free consultation with a California personal injury attorney to discuss the injury and your child’s legal rights.