How Do Liability Waivers Work With Minors?

April 2, 2021

Although liability waivers are legally binding contracts, it is widely understood that any contract signed by a minor is invalid. If your facility is used by children or if you are hosting an event where minors are involved, you may be wondering how liability waivers work with minors.

Understanding Negligence

Liability waivers work on the premise of negligence, which falls into two main categories:

  • Gross negligence: This form of negligence occurs when the facility or organizer fails to exercise a reasonable standard of care. For instance, if a gym fails to block off access to a damaged treadmill and a customer gets injured using it, gross negligence has occurred. In such a situation, the facility or organizer will be held liable regardless of whether a liability waiver has been signed.
  • Ordinary negligence: This is the kind of negligence liability waivers protect businesses from. In simple terms, ordinary negligence is the failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner as the average person would under similar circumstances. 

How Waivers Work with Minors

While the legality of waiver forms involving minors will vary from state to state, one common factor is that a form signed only by a minor is invalid. Getting a parent to co-sign a form is one way some facilities get around this; however, it is important to note that there have been cases where, after reaching the age of consent, the minor involved claimed that their parent had no right to sign away their rights on their behalf, and that the facility is still responsible for the negligent act. This has been upheld in some states. Because of this, some facilities bar minors whose parents have not signed the liability waiver from participating in certain “riskier” activities. 

What Businesses Can Do

One precaution taken by businesses is to require the parent to sign an “agreement to participate” form, where all the potential risks of the activity are clearly outlined. Although this does not absolve the business from liability in itself, there can be a stronger case when placed next to the liability waiver. 

In addition, parents should be given sufficient time to go through all the terms on a liability waiver and raise any questions or concerns they may have. If your liability waiver is too vague, it can end up being dismissed in court, something you want to avoid at all costs. To this end, always take parents’ questions seriously and evaluate if there is something amiss with the wording of your liability waiver, taking steps to correct it.

WaiverFile Provides Customer Support for Online Waivers

When you engage our services for online waiver forms, we always ensure our customer support is as good as our software. Whether you need help configuring your waiver form or advice on how to explain a liability waiver to customers, we are here for you. This is one reason why we have collected so many positive reviews from our clients over the years. If you would like to start digitalizing waiver forms or require customer support, please feel free to contact us today.

Disclaimer: The content on this site is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established. To ensure your online consent form is legally binding based on your location, industry, and specific circumstances, consult a legal professional in your area.

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