Most people have signed a liability release waiver at some point. Often, release waivers are included on the back of concert or sporting event tickets. While the language in these agreements may not be clear to the reader, they are generally enforceable and can prevent an accident victim from holding a company liable – even for their own negligent actions.
With that said, there are limits to the enforceability of Maryland liability release waivers. For example, courts will not enforce a waiver that purports to waive the right to pursue compensation based on a party’s willful, wanton, or reckless negligence. A recent state appellate opinion illustrates how this situation may arise.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed after she was run over by a tow-truck on the Daytona International Speedway. Apparently, employees of the facility directed the tow-truck driver to back up into a restricted non-spectator area. However, as the driver was backing up, he ran over the plaintiff.
Evidently, before entering the facility, the plaintiff signed a liability release waiver which stated that she agreed to “release, waive, and discharge [the organizers] … from all liability … for any and all loss.” The agreement also stated that it “extends to all acts of negligence.”
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit, claiming that the organizers were grossly negligent in causing her death. The defendants argued that the signed release of liability waiver prevented the plaintiff from filing the claim. Specifically, the defendants argued that the agreement covered any alleged gross negligence of its employees, pointing to the language that the agreement extended to all “acts of negligence.”
The court, however, disagreed with the defendants and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed towards trial. The court explained that under state law, a company is not able to contract away liability that is the result of gross negligence. Given that finding, the court then went on to hold that the facts as alleged by the plaintiff create a legitimate issue as to whether the defendants were grossly negligent. Thus, the court held that the plaintiff’s case should move forward.
More on Maryland Release Waivers
As noted above, Maryland courts will critically review a liability release waiver to ensure that it is legally acceptable. This includes ensuring that the agreement is not ambiguous, is not the result of the parties having grossly unequal bargaining power, and is not against sound public policy.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland accident after signing a liability release waiver, do not assume that the agreement not to pursue charges is legally enforceable. Instead, consult with the dedicated team or Maryland personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have decades of experience assisting injury victims in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. in pursuit of claims for compensation based on the injuries they have sustained. To learn more about how we can help you with your claim, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Maintenance Worker Permitted to Proceed with Claim Against Property Owner in Recent Premises Liability Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 10, 2018.
Determining Liability in Maryland Sports Injury Cases, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 24, 2018.