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School Liability Waivers: What a Parent Signs Away

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

School liability waivers are so common that most parents sign them without thinking twice. They come up during sports, field trips, and other extracurricular activities where school officials are in charge.

Not signing the waiver means your child can't participate in the activity. Most parents consider that too unfair given the presumably low-risk of most activities.

But signing the waiver doesn't mean you have no legal recourse if something goes wrong.

Waivers for kids' activities are all over the place but that doesn't mean that courts like them.

Many state courts refuse to uphold them for anything other than inherent risks of the activity. That means you still have a right to sue for negligence in most cases.

To bring a suit for negligence you have to show that someone had a duty to watch your child, that they failed in that duty and subsequently that some kind of injury occurred.

Schools often have a duty to students so the real key is proving that the failure to appropriately supervise resulted in injury.

That doesn't generally extend to lawsuits that arise out of inherently dangerous activities where there was appropriate supervision. Contact sports such as football are an example of an activity when injuries can happen even if everything is going right.

One of the negative effects of waivers is many parents assume that they remove any right to sue. But that isn't the case.

If your child is hurt at school or on a school trip always talk to a lawyer before making a decision about whether to bring a suit. A lawyer can help go through your legal rights and give you options for how to move forward after the injury.

A new school year will probably bring more liability waivers for parents to sign. But if your child is hurt don't let it stop you from finding out what you're entitled to under the law.

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