I can’t believe attorneys write these lines, which means injured people sue because their attorneys can see the stupidity in the release. Alternatively, probably the release was not written by an attorney but cobbled together from stuff the operation owner finds on laying around the office.

Here are some specific lines from releases that I found quite interesting.

COMPANY DOES NOT SUPPLY HELMETS.  This followed a paragraph requiring you two initial twice that climbing without a helmet is dangerous.  I do not know for sure, but I suspect the company supplies ropes.  I have yet to see a climbing wall that did not.  I also suspect that the company also rents shoes or harnesses.  I have yet to see one that did not offer those either for a fee or for free.  However, the piece of safety equipment that they admit in writing is necessary they do not provide!

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?  You state in your release a helmet is a necessary piece of climbing safety equipment, and you do not provide the helmet.  Next time someone has a head injury hand them the keys to the building and tells them to forward your mail.  You can rent a car without seatbelts; you can rent a boat without a life jacket, and you can run a climbing wall without helmets!

In that regard, I have also seen climbing gyms require you to sign a release if you do not want to use a helmet.  The release outlines the dangers of not using a helmet, and you are strongly encouraged to wear a helmet.  When you ask for one, they charge you a rental fee.  IF YOU RUN AN OUTDOOR RECREATION BUSINESS, YOU BETTER PROVIDE THE REQUIRED SAFETY GEAR FOR FREE!  No judge is going to allow that release to stand, where you waived the use of a helmet if you charged for it.  That would be like renting canoes or kayaks without supplying life jackets.  Inline skates without pads and helmets or bicycles without helmets.

We will provide the Release; you provide the Boats!

I just came back from the big industry trade show where all the new gear is displayed each year.  A company that puts on tradeshows hosts the event.  One day was a “demo day” on the lake.  Most of the boat manufacturers and many other exhibitors had their boats on the lake to be tested by retailers.  To enter the site you had to sign a release.  After signing the release, you received a little wristband that allowed you to walk around and test boats.


Now I am sure that a good defense attorney would piece together the list of people covered by the release and argue either the Exhibitors were covered or that the words “sponsors, advertisers, or others associated with the Exhibition” covered the exhibitors.  However, it could be a little tough.  In all the documents presented by the tradeshow company about the event, the referred to the people in booths and at the demo as Exhibitors.  Because the Exhibitors are the people with the real risk, you would want them covered.

One release could cover everyone.  You would not want to sign a different release for each exhibitor; you would have writer’s cramp and never be in a boat.  Adding the term exhibitor to the list of terms describing the people to be covered would have been easy.  Adding the term exhibitors, boat manufacturers and other persons displaying product or offering products for use at the event would have been better.

Because water was involved, I would also suggest adding a few rules the participants should be required to follow.  “I agree to wear a PFD (personal flotation device or life jacket) whenever I am demonstrating any vessel on the lake.”  I agree to follow the directions and recommendations of the manufactures in regard to the operation of their vessels while testing any vessel on the lake.”

Manufactures, who paid to be there, where there, with their collective wallets blowing in the wind.  As a manufacture, you should make sure you’re covered when in any situation like that.  Ask for a copy of the release in advance and make sure your assets are protected.

Other Great Lines in Releases

Other than Gross Negligence. Releases in all states do not stop claims for gross negligence. Because the releasor is worried people will not like their release, they attempt to soften the document by telling signors what the release won’t cover: gross negligence. Consequently, even the dumbest attorney the injured guest sees can figure out how to beat the release. Sue for gross negligence. Even if the law is fuzzy in a state, the release says you can’t sue me for gross negligence.

That is like locking the door but keeping the key to the door outside so anyone can unlock the door!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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By Recreation Law    James H. Moss       #Authorrank

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