It now seems commonplace that you have to sign a Liability Release Form when you are engaging the services of a company to do some kind of risky activity. A Liability Release Form is a short document (usually one page) that states that you will not sue or make a claim for injuries or death against another individual or company. Many times you see these types of forms at roller-skating rinks, ski resorts, water parks, and other places that offer moving activities.
In Pennsylvania, these types of Liability Release Forms may be valid if:
(a) it does not contravene any policy of the law, that is, if it is not a matter of interest to the public or the Commonwealth;
(b) the contract is between persons relating entirely to their own private affairs; and
(c) each party is a free bargaining agent and the clause is not in effect a mere contract of adhesion whereby one party simply adheres to a document which he is powerless to alter, having no alternative other than to reject the transaction entirely.
Pennsylvania has upheld these types of Liability Release Forms when they have been very specific by naming the types of activities that you may cause you injury or death.
Liability Release Forms may be attacked in court if you are not given the opportunity to negotiate and amend the Liability Release Form. A company may force you to sign a Liability Release Form to use the premises. To prepare for a defense to a company’s future position that you signed the waiver, you should request in writing that you want to negotiate and amend the Liability Release Form presented.
Hopefully, the company will entertain your request. If the company does not entertain your request to negotiate and amend the Liability Release Form, you should request the company to deny your request to amend in writing. This writing possibly could help you invalidate the Liability Release Form in the future.
Pennsylvania courts have examined these types of Liability Release Agreements on a case-by-case basis. Some courts have held that “gross negligence” has invalidated these types of Release Agreements. Black’s Law Dictionary defines gross negligence as the intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another. Therefore, if the company acts in a way that you may think is “reckless” then these types of Liability Release Forms may be held not effective by a Pennsylvania Court.
You should have an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer review the Liability Release Forms presented to you to get an accurate legal opinion on your individual matter.