As more people take part in some sort of organised sporting activity it is important to know what your rights are if you are injured as a result. Some businesses assume they can rely on a disclaimer to avoid liability and, although that could apply in some circumstances, it will not guard them against a claim for injury arising from negligence. Our specialist personal injury lawyer, Moira Mortimer, came across such an example recently.
Last weekend my daughters decided to do some water sports and hired some equipment from a business in the Lake District. They have obviously absorbed some knowledge of the law relating to negligence over the years as they thought I would be amused to see the disclaimer they had to sign before being allowed to go out on the lake.
We are all familiar with these sorts of disclaimers, that attempt to limit your legal right to bring a claim for personal injury, loss or damage, such as
We are not liable for any personal injury that you may suffer as a result of taking part in this activity.
You take part at your own risk.
The disclaimer suggests that the business will not be responsible for any injury that someone might suffer, no matter how it came about. But just how effective is that disclaimer?
Every business or organiser of a sporting activity owes a duty of care to those taking part. If you are injured because there was a breach of that duty of care, then this may give rise to a claim in negligence. No business or individual can ever evade liability for injury simply by using a disclaimer. If an accident has been caused by their negligence, then they must take responsibility for it.
On one hand the disclaimer may be useful in drawing your attention to the possible risks of the activity you are about to engage in but on the other hand you may be asked to sign it as a way of putting you off bringing a claim if you are injured. Do not be put off asking our advice on whether you may have a claim, just because you signed a disclaimer, because the chances are that it is invalid.
And the disclaimer that my daughters thought would amuse me? It attempted to avoid all liability for injury, serious injury or death that they might suffer even if due to the negligence of the business and/or their staff or employees. I did laugh.
Moira Mortimer – Associate