Before engaging in a potentially risky situation, you may have been asked to sign a liability waiver so you will not sue the other party in case you get injured. This is done in an attempt to convince you to give up your legal rights of filing a personal injury claim in case of an accident. However, the state of Virginia considers liability waivers and pre-injury releases to be invalid in most cases. There are exceptions to this – and each case is different, so consult an attorney if you believe you might have a claim.

Will My Rights Still Be Protected?

Signing a piece of paper that says you will not sue the other party does not mean you have forfeited your rights to seek compensation for damages if you do engage in a risky activity and suffer catastrophic injuries. Exculpatory clauses are not enforceable in Virginia courts – meaning even if you signed a waiver, you may hire a personal injury attorney and file an injury claim. It is interesting to mention that Virginia is one of the few states that still protects personal injury victims even after they signed a liability waiver.

A noteworthy landmark case in this area dates back to the 19th century. In 1890, the case Johnson’s Adm’x v. Richmond and Danville R.R. Co., 86 Va. 975 (1890) lead the court to rule that it was not lawful for one party to put another party to the contract “at the mercy of its own misconduct” and that “public policy forbids it”, therefore “contracts against public policy are void”. In other words, a contract that bars an injury victim from seeking compensation is not considered legal and will likely not hold up in court.

What is the Indemnity Provision?

The one exception to this rule is the indemnity provision. An indemnity clause is also known as a hold harmless clause and is used to shift potential costs from one party to another. In another important case – Estes Express Lines, Inc. v. Chopper Express, Inc., 273 Va. 358 (2007) – a Chopper Express employee filed a personal injury claim against Estes for negligence and was able to reach a settlement. Because Chopper Express had signed an indemnity clause promising to indemnify Estes for any losses resulting from the contract, the company was forced to reimburse Estes for all fees associated with their employee’s claim.

Can a Lawyer Help if I Signed a Waiver?

In short, liability waivers are not considered enforceable in Virginia courts and you can still sue even after signing one. However, if you also signed an indemnity clause, seeing a skilled personal injury attorney is strongly recommended. The Johnson Law Firm, PC helps Gainesville and Woodbridge, VA clients injured in an accident caused by someone else and can help you understand the law and see if you have a potential claim. If you have been injured after signing a waiver in Virginia, contact the Johnson Law Firm, PC and schedule a consultation to discuss your case.