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Are Campground Liability Waivers Legally Enforceable?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Camping this summer? Don't forget the campground liability waiver. And you might want to spend some time reading it this time, because most of them are likely to be legally enforceable.

So whether you're sending your kids off to Camp Wannagohoam or planning a family adventure at a public or private campground, think about these legal features of campground liability waivers:

Liability Waivers Typically Part of Contract

You're likely to encounter campground liability waivers when choosing to camp on private property or as part of an organized event or trip. Either way, a campground liability waiver will be presented to you along with a number of other contract provisions that must be signed before you can enter the campground.

Despite how much this is presented as a "requirement," any campground liability waiver is a voluntary legal agreement between you and the campground's owners and operators. This means several things for a potential signor. For example:

  • Courts will view this liability waiver as voluntarily "bargained for," regardless of whether you read it or not;
  • The terms may seem set in stone because they're printed on a form, but you have the ability to negotiate; and
  • A campground liability waiver form is actually an invitation for an offer, not a contract itself.

When you look at these legal facts together, you may notice that in the law's eyes, you have more power than you think. Most courts will assume the agreement was entered into knowingly and voluntarily, so why not take some time to actually consider it?

If you want to test this theory, try marking through or obliterating the liability waiver portion of your campground agreement and then signing it.

Boilerplate Liability Waivers Aren't Bulletproof

Typically these campground liability waivers contain an "assumption of risk" associated with the grounds, and a release of liability for injuries or damage that occurs on the grounds. The former prevents you from suing the campground or its owners and operators for negligence due to a risky feature of the grounds that you had acknowledged.

The latter attempts to have you release the campground and its owners and employees from liability for just about any injury or damage possible while at the grounds. Most waivers for negligence are enforceable. However, if there is no exception for potentially malicious or intentional acts of the campground staff, the waiver is likely unenforceably broad.

Keep these legal facts in mind before signing your next campground liability waiver.

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