You’re probably familiar with the concept of waivers, which usually require your signature before you participate in an adventure activity, enter an amusement park, sign up to use a public gym or pool. Once you’ve signed a waiver, it’s a common misconception that you may have no legal options available if you suffer a serious injury during that activity. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Here we explain what a waiver is, how to know if you have a claim, what you may be entitled to claim for and what to do if you’re injured.
What is a liability waiver?
A liability waiver is a legal contract between the organiser(s) of the activity and the participant. By signing a waiver, you as the participant acknowledge that you’re aware of inherent risks you undertake when taking part in the activity. Further to this, you also agree that the service provider won’t be held responsible for any injuries that occur in the course of the activity.
I’ve signed a liability waiver agreement but I’ve been injured. Can I still make a claim for compensation?
This depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.
If you can prove that the activity provider’s duty of care was breached, you may be able to make a claim. Examples of this include equipment that wasn’t properly maintained or staff that weren’t properly trained.
The key is to prove that the provider who owed you a duty of care was negligent and that your injuries occurred as a result of their negligence.
It’s important to note that if your injuries occurred as a result of the normal risks associated with the activity and not due to negligence on their part, your claim is a lot less likely to succeed.
What can I claim for?
This comes down to your specific circumstances but under public liability law, you may be able to claim compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future loss of earnings
- Pain and suffering, as well as loss of enjoyment of life
- Care and help provided by friends, family or any other individual
Are waivers legally binding in Australia?
Waivers are not necessarily enforceable, which means you may have a right to claim compensation if you sustain an injury.
All contracts must be very specific and clear in their use of wording so that each party understands what they are agreeing to. In the case of waivers, this means that before embarking on the activity, (especially dangerous activities), the activity provider must make extra effort to ensure that you understand the risks and information contained in the waiver. If a contract’s use of language is so ambiguous that you’re not sure of what you’re waiving your rights to, then a court may decide the waiver is not legally binding.
What should I do if I'm injured after signing a waiver?
Shine Lawyers - we're here to help
If you’ve been injured after signing a waiver, or believe an activity provider breached their duty of care, contact us today. Our team of public liability experts can help you to understand your rights and make a claim for compensation on a No Win, No Fee* basis.
To get started, use our free online claim checker below, or speak to one of our experts over the phone.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 9, 2021.