Can a patron of my business sue me even if they signed a waiver agreeing to give up their right to sue?

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

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Can a patron of my business sue me even if they signed a waiver agreeing to give up their right to sue?

I am starting a company that will have an annual obstacle course race for people to compete on foot. I cannot find insurance for such an event. The participants will sign a waiver stating they enter into the race fully aware of the risk involved and agree to give up their rights to sue for any potential injuries. How much protection does this waiver offer? Can they still file a civil suit against me and win?

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Personal Injury, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can generally have people waive their right to sue for the normal risks attendent upon an activity--for example, the risk of falling when climbing a properly maintained obstacle, or of pulling or spraining something, etc. However, you cannot waive your liability for your own negligence, or carelessness, or the deliberate wrongful acts of yourself or your staff. So if, for example, an obstacle is poorly built or maintained, and falls on someone or has sharp edges sticking out, or if an employee pushes someone to "motivate" them or help them across an obstacle and they fall, you would likely be liable.

You may wish to consider whether your inability to get insurance is a reflection that there are considerable liability risks.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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