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Are recreational camp waivers always valid?

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2021 | Products Liability

Parents placing their children in a summer camp in New York might sign liability waivers. Camp involves physical activity, so those running the camps seek to protect themselves from financial losses. A waiver provides some level of protection since the young ones may get hurt. Regardless, New York state law does not afford any business with blanket protection through the use of a liability waiver.

The limitations of liability waivers

A poorly worded and ambiguous waiver might not have value in court. When a release presents vague language, the contract could face challenges. Questions about ambiguous terms and phraseology may need to go to a jury during a civil suit. Some waivers may be blatantly poorly composed, while others may present a gray area.

Even a “well-written” waiver faces limitations. One misconception about releases centers on how they could be enforceable under any circumstances. In truth, the waiver’s enforceability remains subject to New York state law. No waiver could override personal injury statutes.

For example, a waiver may protect the camp from claims resulting from ordinary negligence. However, gross negligence is another matter. If a lawsuit presents proof of excessive and gross negligence, then the waiver might be useless. A camp counselor might become distracted momentarily, and a child may suffer harm. That could be a form of ordinary negligence. If counselors left the children unsupervised for hours on end, the negligence might rise to an excessive level.

Deliberate harm and waivers

Any willful or intentional injuries would doubtfully find any protection under a waiver. If a counselor or another employee at the camp abused a child, a waiver might cease to be a liability safety net.

Injuries to children may result in a lawsuit. An attorney could review a waiver and the circumstances to determine whether litigation seems advisable.