With warm weather in abundance, your kids are probably eager to get back to their recreational sports leagues and other outdoor activities. Softball, baseball, soccer and swim teams are popular ways to stay in shape and make friends while school’s out—but what happens if your child is hurt?
Liability Waivers for Minors
Most recreational sporting teams or organizations ask parents to sign liability waivers when enrolling their child. A waiver acknowledges that there is a risk of injury during the activity. By signing the waiver, parents agree that they will not try to hold the organization responsible if their child gets hurt.
Some people question whether it’s legal (or should be legal) to allow parents to sign away the child’s rights to recovering compensation. In 1998, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that these types of waivers are legal for non-profits for two reasons.
First, at least in the case of non-profit organizations, there’s a public policy interest to uphold. Non-profit organizations are less likely to carry insurance policies. They often operate thanks to volunteers, and do not make a profit from these activities. If parents were allowed to sue despite a liability waiver, the non-profits might cease operations.
Second, parents are allowed to make decisions on behalf of their children. The court ruled that under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution, the parents are entitled to assume the risk of physical injury for their children—in short, if their child gets injured, they’re agreeing to pay for those costs rather than the non-profit. The court assumes that parents will weigh the risks versus the rewards and make an educated decision on their child’s behalf. As long as they knowingly signed the waiver, they’re entitled to make that decision.
What happens if parents try to waive liability for their minor children in for-profit organizations? The Ohio Supreme Court hasn’t yet ruled on this specific question. Experts suggest that because the 1998 case was specifically tailored to non-profits, and because most jurisdictions don’t bind minors in for-profit waivers, the court probably will not enforce waivers.
What to Do if Your Child is Injured
If your child was injured in a for-profit sports organization, see an attorney right away. They’ll evaluate your case and help determine whether you may be eligible to recover compensation.
Talk to an Ohio Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Case
Has your child been injured during sporting or other recreational activities? Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to recover compensation. If they’re legally liable, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call me today at 877.944.4373 for a consultation.