Back to school means forms for parents to sign. When the forms are for school activities or field trips, churches, clubs, etc., they often include a release of liability or waiver. Our Minnesota accident injury lawyers suggest you ALWAYS cross out the language on the forms that release liability for injury to your child. If the school or club won’t let your child participate without the waiver (which almost never happens) they will call you and you can sign a new release if necessary. But otherwise, there is no reason you should sign a waiver for yourself or your child.
Our attorneys understand the reasons behind a waiver or release – school and groups want to avoid getting sued and they think a liability release will hold down insurance expenses. And, as parents and taxpayers ourselves, we recognize that if our child is injured because of the natural risks of engaging in the sport or activity, there should be no liability to the organization. For example, a few years ago, our oldest child’s wrist was fractured while playing soccer when he fell and another player stepped on him. Injuries like that on the field are an acknowledged risk of the sport and it is understandable to require a waiver of claims relating to the inherent risk of participating in a particular activity.
The problem is that most school waivers are so broad that they often release potential liability far beyond the activity you are registering the child for. For example, most waivers will release “any and all claims arising out of transportation to and from the activity.” This means if your child takes a bus to an activity and the bus driver negligently causes a crash and your childis badly injured, your child may not be able to pursue a claim against the bus company’s insurance (and obtain compensation) because you signed the release as part of the registration process. We always cross off language that precludes claims relating to transportation. Releases also often include the broad statement that you are releasing any claims “…for the negligence of all employees, agents, representatives, etc. of [the organization].” Again, we always cross off language that precludes any negligence claims before signing the release – because any just goes too far.
It may seem a little scary to cross off part of the school form, but we have never had a group or organization say our child couldn’t participate unless we signed the release as is. And if they do tell you that, there is no harm done – you can still sign another release without changes if they insist.
Because releases are often broader than what is reasonable, it is important to review the release carefully to make sure that you remove any language that could prevent your child from being compensated if they are injured. The waivers are not always at the beginning of the form, so read the whole form before signing. If you have any questions about this, you are always welcome to call us and speak with an injury lawyer for a free consultation. Our lawyers represent children injured at a school activity or sports throughout MN.