A recent Florida Supreme Court decision and a newly passed bill from the Florida Legislature have altered the use of pre-injury releases (usually known as waivers) that many commercial establishments make parents of minor children sign. It is important that you, as a parent of a minor child, know your rights when presented with such a form.
The ruling and new statutes now say that liability waivers for commercial establishments for minor children signed by their parent may only cover injuries resulting from the inherent risks of the activity. Inherent Risk is defined within the bill as:
“[T]hose dangers or conditions, known or unknown, which are characteristic of, intrinsic to, or an integral part of the activity and which are not eliminated even if the activity provider acts with due care in a reasonably prudent manner.”
This new legislation does not include negligence or misconduct on behalf of the commercial establishment and its staff as provisions that may be included and enforced in these waivers. All commercial parent/minor child waivers must have the following paragraph included in a font larger than and clearly distinguishable from the rest of the text of the waiver:
“NOTICE TO THE MINOR CHILD’S NATURAL GUARDIAN
READ THIS FORM COMPLETELY AND CAREFULLY. YOU ARE AGREEING TO LET YOUR MINOR CHILD ENGAGE IN A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ACTIVITY. YOU ARE AGREEING THAT, EVEN IF (…name of release party or parties…) USES REASONABLE CARE IN PROVIDING THIS ACTIVITY, THERE IS A CHANCE YOUR CHILD MAY BE SERIOUSLY INJURED OR KILLED BY PARTICIPATING IN THIS ACTIVITY BECAUSE THERE ARE CERTAIN DANGERS INHERENT IN THE ACTIVITY WHICH CANNOT BE AVOIDED OR ELIMINATED. BY SIGNING THIS FORM YOU ARE GIVING UP YOUR CHILD’S RIGHT AND YOUR RIGHT TO RECOVER FROM (…name of released party or parties…) IN A LAWSUIT FOR ANY PERSONAL INJURY, INCLUDING DEATH, TO YOUR CHILD OR ANY PROPERTY DAMAGE THAT RESULTS FROM THE RISKS THAT ARE A NATURAL PART OF THE ACTIVITY. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO SIGN THIS FORM, AND (…name of released party or parties…) HAS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO LET YOUR CHILD PARTICIPATE IF YOU DO NOT SIGN THIS FORM.”
If the waiver only covers the inherent risks as described above, it is valid and enforceable, but if negligence and misconduct are also included, you still have the right to hold the commercial entity responsible for injuries arising from those actions.
This ruling and law only apply to commercial establishments. Waivers given by non-profit, community, or volunteer-run establishments may still use waivers that cover negligence and misconduct. Be sure to look over any and all forms that you are given before your child participates in any activity that could result in injury in death.
At Perenich The Law Firm, our goal is to educate our clients to evolving laws and legislation that can impact their everyday life. Make sure to always read over any type of legal form such as a liability waiver carefully, and if in doubt, contact one of our Personal Injury attorneys here in Clearwater. We serve the Tampa Bay area, and we will assist you in navigating the murky depths which surround these legal documents.