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Florida court lets man pursue injury claim, despite liability waiver

Based on a recent ruling, a man will be allowed to pursue legal action for injuries he suffered at an event, despite having signed a liability waiver.

Sometimes people in Florida, and elsewhere, participate in activities or events that they know are dangerous. This may include running in a race, skydiving or even riding a horse, among other activities. In order to protect themselves, the businesses organizations or people running such events may require participants to sign liability waivers. Should they suffer serious injuries after signing, however, their options for recourse and restitution may be limited.

Man injured at Walt Disney World

Orlando Weekly reported that a 22-year-old man was injured in 2006 while attending a trade show at Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports. While at the event, an advertising balloon was purportedly blown down by the wind and struck him in the head. Although stunned, the man initially thought he was OK. After being checked out at the hospital, which he claims was at the suggestion of a Disney representative, he was cleared to participate in a paintball tournament at the park.

As is commonly the case with such events, he signed a liability waiver prior to competing. When his neurological symptoms continued and worsened after he returned home, the man sought medical treatment. He was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. Since he had signed the tournament’s liability waiver, however, the event’s organizers and Disney reportedly claimed that they were not responsible for his injury, or the resulting damages.

Appeals court ruling

According to the Orlando Weekly report, the tournament had a liability policy for the event. However, the man’s claim was denied because he was injured at the trade show, and not during the tournament itself. In 2010, he took legal action against the park, the organizers of the event and a one of the vendors at the event, among others. His lawsuit was reportedly dismissed based on the liability waiver.

Recently, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed that court’s decision. As a result, the man will be able to pursue his lawsuit, and have his day in court. While Disney did have the option to seek a review from the Florida Supreme Court, it has reportedly decided not to take that step.

Impact of the ruling

The recent appellate ruling has brought into focus the need to pay attention to the specifics of liability waivers. Based on the court’s decision, such waivers may only be enforced when the intention to release liability is clearly and unequivocally made. As such, it sets a precedent that people who sign such waivers may still be able to take legal action. Additionally, it may incentivize resorts, amusement parks and other venues to ensure that they are using due care and taking the necessary precautions to prevent injuries.

Seeking legal guidance

When dealing with events and liability waivers, there can be grey areas. This may make it difficult for people in Fort Walton Beach, and throughout Florida, to obtain the compensation they need, and deserve. As such, those who have suffered injuries after signing such release forms may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may help them to understand their rights, as well as their legal options.

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