Can You Sue in Tennessee if You Signed a Waiver?

Most people have signed a Waiver or Release of Liability form at some point in their lives. Most of us sign them without thinking about it. If you have children, you have probably even signed a Waiver or Release of Liability on their behalf. These forms are often a necessary step to take before participating in activities like whitewater rafting, rock walls, indoor trampoline parks, or even bouncy houses for kids. Businesses that provide recreational services often require you to sign forms with plenty of fine print before you can participate.

These forms are meant to absolve the business of any liability in the event you get hurt while participating. These forms are perfectly legal, and they do help businesses avoid taking the blame for some things. However, Tennessee law does not allow a Waiver or Release of Liability to get away with “gross negligence.”

Have you signed one of these forms before?

Some of the most common places that you are asked to sign a Waiver or Release of Liability form include:

  • Indoor trampoline parks
  • Gyms when you sign up for a membership
  • Amusement park
  • Concerts or sporting events
  • Cruise ships
  • When receiving medical care
  • Spas before you get treatment
  • Recreational sports league participation
  • When renting a vehicle or equipment

All of these activities involve some risk. Without a business having a guarantee they will not be liable for injuries, it is likely that most of these businesses would not even operate.

Gross negligence is not okay

In Tennessee, state courts have prohibited waivers from being enforceable in cases of gross negligence. If the court determines that company, entity, or their agents were grossly negligent, they can be held liable by the person injured through a personal injury lawsuit.

Gross negligence is worse than ordinary negligence and involves:

  • The party acting negligently, and
  • The party acting with utter unconcern and reckless disregard for the well-being of those in their care

The hardest part of these cases is proving that gross negligence occurred and differentiating it from ordinary negligence. This can become a complicated legal process that requires extensive investigation. If you or a loved one have been injured after signing a Waiver or Release of Liability form, contact a skilled Tennessee personal injury attorney who can guide you through this entire process.

Some examples of gross negligence

Some examples of gross negligence in these cases can include:

  • You and your family charter a boat to go fishing, which includes the boat captain to get you to the fishing location and a guide to help you catch the fish. What you did not know is that the “boating captain” has nearly no experience piloting the vessel and is only working your trip that day because the actual boat captain did not show up for work. However, not wanting to lose the money, the company decided to send you out with a person who has no experience. If they crash the boat and you or a loved one are injured, you could have a claim regardless of whether you signed a waiver or not.
  • If you are at an amusement park and are injured by a part flying from a ride and later find out that the ride should not have been open due to failed inspections from state regulators, you could have a case regardless of whether you signed a waiver before entering the park.