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When Waivers are Enforceable in Florida – Gillete v. All Pro Sports

go kartWhen an individual is about to engage in recreational activities such as go-karting, sky diving, zip-lining, para-sailing and other physically rigorous activities, that individual will usually be asked to sign a waiver. A waiver is a document which evidences the intentional relinquishment of a right, claim or privilege. A waiver essentially communicates the fact that the person undertaking the activity understands that he or she may get hurt or killed and, if that happens, the entity hosting or administering the activity will not be liable. Business establishments use waivers to relieve themselves of liability in the event of an accident or injury. Most states have their own laws governing the clarity requirements of waivers. In the state of Florida, waivers must be sufficiently clear in order to be enforceable.

In Gillette v. All Pro Sports, the plaintiff was injured at a recreational go-karting facility known as All Pro Sports. The plaintiff claimed that an All Pro Sports employee increased the speed of the go kart, causing her to lose control of the vehicle and crash into the railing. The plaintiff subsequently sued All Pro Sports for her injuries under the theory of negligence.

The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the waiver and release from liability that plaintiff had signed was enforceable. The court noted that in order for a waiver to be effective, “the wording of such clauses must be so clear and understandable that an ordinary and knowledgeable person will know what she or he is contracting away.” Here, the trial court concluded that the terms and language of the waiver were clear enough for the plaintiff to understand and consent to.

The Fifth District reversed the trial court’s ruling, stating that it was unclear whether the waiver pertained to the type of negligence that occurred in this case. The All Pro Sports waiver focused on signers waiving/releasing the go-karting facility from any negligence claims arising from the conduct of the signers themselves or other go-kart drivers on the track. The issue in this case, however, did not revolve around the plaintiff’s own negligence, but rather the negligence of an All Pro Sports employee. The court found that by failing to expressly state that the release included All Pro Sports’ own negligence, the waiver did not clearly indicate that the negligence was of the sort “intended to be within the scope of the release.” Thus, it was unclear whether the waiver extended to acts of negligence by the defendant.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Miami or anywhere in South Florida, it is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights and options. Unfortunately, accidents happen during recreational activities all the time – but depending on the facts and circumstances of your specific case, you may be able to recover compensation for your harm. Robert Dixon is a highly reputable Miami accident lawyer who will work closely with you to help you get the justice and compensation you deserve for your injuries. To find out about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).

More Blog Posts:

Understanding the Basics of “Catastrophic Injuries” Under Florida Law, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, July 7, 2014

Understanding the Pure Comparative Negligence Law in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014

Liability in Rental Car Accidents in Florida – Adams v. Bell Partners, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 23, 2014