A defendant may be able to escape liability for injuries if the injured party executed a waiver that releases the defendant from liability. However, our Miami personal injury attorneys find that courts construe these waivers very carefully especially if they constitute a very broad release from all existing and future claims. Parties should take care in executing such broad waivers and must insist on clear language that defines the scope of the waiver. The case below illustrates how any ambiguity will usually be construed in the plaintiff’s favor and against a waiver’s broad applicability.
The case of Peterson v. Flare Fittings involves an incident where the plaintiff was injured when a 10-foot balloon made contact with his head while he was attending a trade show and sporting event. The balloon contained the defendant’s logo and was attached to a tree beside a tent operated by the defendant. According to the plaintiff, the impact caused his knees to buckle and caused him to be in pain and to be dazed. The plaintiff reported the incident to a manager, He then sought medical treatment and was discharged after receiving negative X-rays. He returned the following day to participate in the paintball competition that was a part of the event and was required to sign a waiver. The waiver stated, in relevant part, that it constituted a release from all past or future claims connected to participation in the event and related activities. The plaintiff signed the waiver. He participated in the competition and returned home shortly after that. Several years later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury suit against the defendant for injuries arising from his collision with the balloon and alleged that the defendant was negligent. The defendant raised the waiver as one of its defenses to liability and filed a motion for summary judgment on that ground. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →