Question: My child loves to go to supervised playtime at the indoor play center near our Illinois home. Last week, he broke his arm while playing on a bounce house. He and his friends said that there were a lot of kids on the bounce house and the teenage staff member was texting instead of watching. I’d like to file a lawsuit, but the facility made me sign a waiver before my child could play. Did I give up my right to sue?

It seems as if every children’s activity comes with a liability waiver. Many times, these waivers are buried in piles of paperwork that require our signature. Other times, they are flashed in front of our eyes while a staff member says, “Sign this to give your child permission to play.” The waivers have become standard. We may not even read the page we are signing.

If your child is injured because of negligence, you should not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney. The attorney will look over the waiver and determine exactly what you signed. In many cases, you simply agree that the activity is risky and that you will not sue if your child is injured because of the inherent risks associated with the activity. However, some waivers contain clauses that excuse the company from liability even if the injury is found to be caused by negligence.

There are two types of negligence: ordinary negligence and gross negligence.

  • Ordinary negligence: Ordinary negligence occurs when someone fails to act as a reasonably prudent person would under the circumstances. A reasonably prudent teenager would not use the phone while watching children.
  • Gross negligence: Gross negligence is a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use proper care. A facility that allows children to use broken equipment is grossly negligent, as is a facility that allows employees to use cell phones while supervising young children.

A waiver that excuses gross negligence may not hold up in court. Your attorney will be able to tell you exactly what your rights are and whether you, or your child, can file an injury claim.

The attorneys at Hupy and Abraham offer free consultations. Bring in the waiver, and we’ll tell you if you have a case. Call 800-390-6350 to schedule your appointment. There is no cost and no obligation.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.