Do you waive all legal rights when signing a waiver?

My friends and I went river tubing open tube on the ‘hooch’ yesterday. We paid for a 4 hour trip but our trip was cut short when it began to rain, thunder and lighting. We were instructed to exit the river to the left if this were to happen, get to ground and call the company and they would come pick us up. We did just that. The entire tubing trip is less than 5 miles and they took over 2 hours to come get us, after we had to swim in 55 degree water to get out and then stood in the rain waiting for hours. We signed a waiver in the beginning but does this mean we have no way to do something about this? There were 15 people total stranded, our group and another. They did refund our money after a long fight but I don’t believe this company should be in business as I know a girl drowned a few years ago and they also took over 2 hours to get to her.

Asked on May 21, 2012 under Business Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can waive your right to sue for acts coming from ordinary negligence, or carelessness. You would still be able to sue for damages, injuries, costs  resulting from deliberate or intentional bad acts or from gross negligence or reckless (abnormal carelessness; think of  shooting a gun into the air, where you may not be aiming at any person, but have no control over where the bullet goes or who is standing where it lands).

However, you are stated to assume the normal risks of an inherently risky activity; so if tubing, you assume (or accept, and cannot sue over) the risks of getting sick from exposure, of falling into the water, of hitting a rock, etc.

Also, no one is liable for acts which they had no control over--so if the delay was due to the road being blocked by a fallen tree, by mud, by a stranded car, etc. the company would likely not be liable.

You can also only take legal action to recover compensation for actual injury or losses, not for mere inconvenience.

So, in sum: no, you do not waive all rights, but you can waive many of them, and there are other reasons to think you might not have any legal claim. Nothing stops you, though, from complaining to the better business bureau, to a parent company, etc., or from telling your friends to not patronize this business.


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