Last week I attended a public event where there was a bounce house offered for any children attending so long as the accompanying adult signed a waiver of liability. There was no observation or monitoring of the bounce house and there were far too many children of all different sizes being allowed in simultaneously. My quick assessment led me to believe the proprietors were committing gross negligence, which cannot be waived. Further, parents can rarely waive the claims of a child and children cannot legally contract to waive negligence. Most assuredly, an adult cannot waive liability regarding someone else’s children. This was a classic case of a waiver that was likely not worth the paper upon which it was written because it It is a common misconception that once a waiver is signed no claim for injuries can follow regardless of anyone’s negligent acts. The law of waivers is controlled by state law and varies from one jurisdiction to the next but in Tennessee, a waiver is generally enforceable if (and only if) it reasonably describes the what is being waived and is signed by an adult who is signing on his or her own behalf. Waivers are generally not enforceable regarding children and are not likely to be enforced if the risk is not clearly defined. Also, gross negligence cannot be waived under most circumstances. The bottom line is this: do not assume that waiver you signed is enforceable. If there has been an injury due to negligence, consult an experienced lawyer who can evaluate whether you or your loved one has a viable claim.
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