Are Waivers of Liability Enforceable in Indiana Courts?

A waiver of liability, also called a liability release waiver, is a legal document that purports to release a party of liability in the event another party is injured. Waivers of liability are very common in Indiana, and whether most people realize it, chances are they have signed one at some point.

Companies use release waivers to limit or eliminate any legal exposure through an Indiana personal injury lawsuit. Common situations where release waivers are used include:

  • Sending a child on a field trip;
  • Participating in a sports league;
  • Using gym equipment;
  • Visiting an amusement park; and
  • Engaging in pay-to-play activities, such as whitewater rafting, horseback riding, skiing, and snowboarding.

Release waivers can be very difficult to locate, and are often found on the back of a ticket or in the fine print of a contract. They also tend to be challenging to understand, making it unclear what rights are being given up by signing them. Further complicating the issue is the fact that, in some cases, a release waiver does not need to be signed to be effective. A recent case illustrates an example where a plaintiff was prevented from pursuing a personal injury lawsuit based on a release waiver.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured after colliding with unmarked snow making equipment while skiing at the defendant resort. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the resort. However, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim based on the liability release printed on the back of the plaintiff’s lift ticket, which displayed a red stop sign and stated: “YOU ARE RELEASING THIS SKI AREA FROM LIABILITY.”

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that he never read or signed the release, and did not intend to give up his right to pursue a claim against the resort. The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, explaining that so long as the language of the release is “sufficiently conspicuous,” it was not important whether the plaintiff actually read and understood the release. To the court, the fact that the release was included on the back of the ticket and the plaintiff used the ticket without reading or objecting to the language of the release was sufficient to establish a valid release of liability. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the denial of the plaintiff’s case.

Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana accident, the dedicated injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse can help. At our Indiana personal injury law firm, we have over 40 years of experience assisting injury victims and their family members pursue claims for compensation based on the serious injuries they have sustained. We handle Indiana premises liability cases, car accident claims, and all other types of personal injury cases. To learn more about our firm, and how we can help you seek justice for what you have been put through, call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.