Young girl jumping on trampoline at Jump Zone theme park in Tennessee

You do it every time you take your child to Jump Zone or Sky High.  You sign a "Liability Waiver" when you first register your child at the facility.  There is no option given that you cannot sign these documents and have your child participate.  Are these waivers enforceable?

Tennessee law clearly allows people to contract away the negligence of one party who hurts another party through simple negligence.  There are some important exceptions, however, that do not allow "gross negligence or willful conduct or those involving a public duty" to be included in a liability waiver.

There is no question that if a minor child (under the age of 18) or an incompetent adult signs a waiver themselves, it means absolutely nothing.  In law, minors are helpless.   The next question is, what if a parent signs a waiver on behalf of the child?   The Tennessee Supreme Court has recently upheld longstanding case law holding that any agreement signed by a parent waiving the minor's rights for harm (damages) in the event of an injury is ineffective to waive the rights of the child against the organization that caused the harm. 

Sometimes companies will sneak in language trying to hold the parents responsible in the event the company has to pay the minor by having the parents sign an "indemnity agreement" to repay the person/organization who caused the harm in the first place.  This is also of zero effect and worry on you, the parent.   These "agreements" are invalid as they place the interests of the child or incompetent against those of the parent or guardian.

However, you should be aware that in some cases where your child has incurred significant medical expenses, and those same expenses will be paid by, or billed to the parent who has signed the waiver, those medical expenses may be waived by the parent who signed the liability waiver.  You can get future loss of income perhaps, but not the medical bills. One possible way around this is to have the parent who is the named insured under your health care policy NOT be the parent signing the liability waiver.

Be Safe!

John Griffith
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Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney
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