Are Liability Waivers Legally Binding in Wisconsin?
Is a Liability Waiver legally binding in Wisconsin?
Most businesses, particularly those that provide services with some risk involved, require you to sign a liability waiver before you can participate in an activity there. If you are hurt, though, you may want to sue despite the waiver. In Wisconsin, the waiver may not be effective. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to help you recover despite the presence of a waiver.
Wisconsin generally does not favor liability waivers. Even though these waivers constitute contracts between the company and the signer, courts have held that public policy outweighs the public interest in holding everyone to the terms of a signed waiver.
A 2013 Court of Appeals decision, Brooten v. Hickok Rehabilitation Services, LLC, described some of the public policy issues that override the general principle of freedom of contract. These waivers tend to be overbroad, in that they attempt to waive any liability for anything that might occur. Meanwhile, they are issued as one-sided documents with no opportunity for the signer to negotiate the contract. When you sign, you are not bargaining for a contract, but being forced to accept terms before you can participate.
Some liability waivers seek to waive liability for intentional or reckless conduct by someone at the facility. This will almost always be unenforceable; a company cannot avoid liability for creating a dangerous condition or doing something intentional to hurt its clientele.
Protecting Your Rights
No Wisconsin court has said that liability waivers can never be enforced. If a company issues a waiver that specifically defines what liability you waive, it has a better chance to defend itself successfully. The case to void a waiver will therefore depend on the facts of your case: what you signed, what happened, and how any damages occurred.
At Eisenberg Law Office, we don’t try to push your case toward a cookie cutter solution. Your case is unique, and we will help you with that in mind. If you were injured after signing a liability waiver, contact us to see how we can help you exercise your rights and get the recovery you deserve.