Can a patron of my business sue me even if they signed a waiver agreeing to give up their right to sue?

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Can a patron of my business sue me even if they signed a waiver agreeing to give up their right to sue?

I am starting a company that will have an annual obstacle course race for people to compete on foot. I cannot find insurance for such an event. The participants will sign a waiver stating they enter into the race fully aware of the risk involved and agree to give up their rights to sue for any potential injuries. How much protection does this waiver offer? Can they still file a civil suit against me and win?

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Personal Injury, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can generally have people waive their right to sue for the normal risks attendent upon an activity--for example, the risk of falling when climbing a properly maintained obstacle, or of pulling or spraining something, etc. However, you cannot waive your liability for your own negligence, or carelessness, or the deliberate wrongful acts of yourself or your staff. So if, for example, an obstacle is poorly built or maintained, and falls on someone or has sharp edges sticking out, or if an employee pushes someone to "motivate" them or help them across an obstacle and they fall, you would likely be liable.

You may wish to consider whether your inability to get insurance is a reflection that there are considerable liability risks.


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