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Written on 14th September 2017 by Kim Milan

Have you ever been asked to sign a contract excluding liability for your personal injury or death and felt that you are signing your life away?

Common situations where you might be asked to sign away your legal rights include:

  • Signing a waiver at a sports event, such as a colour run, which says that the event host cannot be held liable for your death or any injury you suffer whilst taking part in the event.

  • Signing a waiver at a charity event, such as a skydive, which says that the charity or skydiving company cannot be held liable for your death or any injury you suffer whilst taking part.

  • Signing a waiver at work which says that your employer cannot be held liable for your death or any injuries you suffer during workplace activities, when working on certain work sites or even when participating in company fun day events.
  • Signing a waiver on a school trip or child’s activity party form which states that the school trip or party organisers will not be liable for any personal injury suffered by your child.

Unaware of their rights, many people succumb to pressure to sign such personal injury waivers and if an accident occurs, they do not pursue a claim as they believe they have waived their right to do so.

But can companies or individuals legally ask you to sign away such rights?

The answer is no.

Section 2(1) of The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 states as follows:

“A person cannot by reference to any contract term or to a notice given to persons generally or to particular persons exclude or restrict his liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence.”

This provision is carried over into section 65(1) of The Consumer Rights Act 2015.

So what does this mean to individuals?

It’s easy to feel pressured to sign contracts with personal injury clauses in them for fear of being prevented from entering in to the activity or participating in the event.  Our advice is to point out to the company that the personal injury exclusion clause in the contract they are asking you to sign is unenforceable and is also breaking the law.  You should then try to get them to agree to remove the personal injury exclusion clause before signing the contract.  If the company refuses to let you remove the personal injury exclusion contract clause, do not sign it.

If you have already signed a contract with a personal injury exclusion clause within it and then gone on to suffer a personal injury caused by the contractor’s negligence, you can still pursue a personal injury claim.

It is important that personal injury claims are pursued for a number of reasons to include:

  • Obtaining justice
  • Ensuring that lessons are learned from dangerous practice and similar accidents do not occur in the future
  • To obtain compensation for your personal injury
  • To ensure that you are reimbursed for any out of pocket expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your personal injury, such as a loss of earnings, medical expenses or charges you may have incurred as a result of employing care nurses to help you following your accident
  • To ensure that any future costs that may arise as a result of your injury such as rehabilitation costs are catered for by the company that caused your injury