Florida is home to many amusement parks, most notably Disney World, and every year, thousands of tourists flock to the state to spend a week or two relaxing, riding roller coasters, kayaking, boating, swimming, and enjoying the beach vacation lifestyle. But when tourists and visitors are injured on a recreational ride or activity at one of our state’s parks, the question of liability becomes an issue, especially when there are releases and waivers involved, accident attorneys say.
Typically, a company will require anyone who wants to rent a boat, or ride on a roller coaster or water ride, to sign a waiver, known as a pre-claim exculpation agreement, that releases the company from liability in the event that something goes wrong. These documents usually disclose the risk to the participant, and include phrasing that puts the full responsibility for any inflicted injury on the participant alone. From a legal standpoint, these documents must be clearly and plainly worded, so that the average person knows what he or she is getting into.
In a recent case, a woman was killed in a diving accident in Florida, after signing an initial release in 2009 and embarking on a series of dives across the state. On the day of her first dive, the woman and her husband each signed a document that included an initial box for one year of validation. The following year, both signed another document, but did not initial the box indicating the one-year time frame. The next day, neither party signed a release, but both of them dove. The wife dived on her own, lost hold of a granny line, drifted away from the group, and drowned.
When the woman’s husband sued on behalf of his wife’s estate, a trial court ruled in his favor, finding that the wife had not signed a release to cover the advanced dive during which she was killed. Typically, the court said, these pre-claim exculpation agreements have a “discernible scope and term” that limits the activity for which the company cannot be held responsible. In the disclosures provided to the couple, the term “activity” was used ambiguously, and did not clearly define the deep dive.
In Florida, pre-claim exculpatory clauses are not favored, and trial courts will only enforce them when the disclosure is clearly worded to encompass the entirety of the activity, and the relief from responsibility is without doubt, personal injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale say. In the victim’s case, the need for multiple forms backed up the trial court’s decision that the activity was not defined in the forms she did actually sign.
At the Law Offices of David I Fuchs, a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney, we represent anyone who has been injured, or who has lost a loved one, due to someone else’s negligence, even if you have signed a release or waiver. David Fuchs will look over your case and review the documents you signed and work to get you the restitution you deserve. For a free, no-strings consultation, contact David Fuchs about your case today.