Be careful what you sign you could be signing away your rights

Posted by Guy DiMartino | Jul 07, 2015 | 0 Comments

You join a health club. They have you fill out a whole bunch of paperwork, you don't read the stuff, and you just sign it. A few weeks later you're on the bench press and the bench collapses. You're severely injured. You learn that the bench had collapsed three times before your injury and the gym was too cheap to buy another bench.

You always wanted a motorcycle. One day you decide to buy one and you sign-up for a motorcycle safety course on-line. You fill out the paperwork on their website and pay with a credit card. You arrive at the class. There are 30 students and one instructor. Apparently, the other instructors didn't show up. The teacher didn't show you how to use your motorcycle. He has you doing exercises on the bike. You didn't get the clutch down; you lose control and run into a tree causing severe injury.

You decide to go to a new spa to get your haircut and colored. They have you sign a new client packet and inside the packet is a waiver of liability that you sign. Your hair is colored and two days later all your hair falls out. You learn that the color person improperly mixed the chemicals and your scalp was burned severely. The doctor told you that your hair would probably not grow back. You will be wearing wigs the rest of your life.

All Three Businesses Were Negligent

Arguably all three businesses were negligent. The health club knew there was a problem with the bench and they didn't take it out of service. The motorcycle school didn't have enough instructors to help the student, and the colorist wasn't paying attention when she mixed the color.

The Insurance Companies denied all Three Claims

The above folks were clearly injured by no fault of their own. They had significant medical expenses and will have physical problems for life. Claims were made to the respective insurance companies and each insurance company denied the claim because the injured folks signed a “waiver of liability” a/k/a “exculpatory clause.”

What Is Exculpatory Clause and is it Legal?

An exculpatory clause is language in a contract that relieves one party of the legal obligation to use do care. In other words, the other party (health club, motorcycle school, spa) can disclaim responsibility even for their own negligence/carelessness.

Exculpatory clauses are legal and Florida courts will uphold them even if the injuries are severe. One court said exculpatory clauses could operate to absolve a defendant from liability arising out of his own negligence.

Before 2015, there was a split in Florida courts over whether the terms of the exculpatory clause had to say that it explicitly waived “negligent acts” or “negligence.” Earlier this year, however, the Florida Supreme Court said that these clauses do not need magic or specific language like “negligence.” The issue in this case was whether the term “any liability” would suffice to absolve the defendant of responsibility for its negligence, and the Supreme Court said yes.

What do you do?

None of us go into a situation thinking about filing a lawsuit, but if you're confronted with one of these clauses in paperwork that you're asked to sign, you may want to think twice about signing the document. If the company will not provide you a service or let you join because you want to put a line through that clause, maybe you're better off going somewhere else. If you sign the document and something happens you will not be able to receive compensation for your injuries, even if your lawyer is Houdini.

If you have any questions about a Leesburg Florida personal injury matter, you can always give me a call at (352) 267-9168.

Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD, PA
918 W. Main Street

Phone: 3522679168

About the Author

Guy DiMartino

I have loved helping people in need for almost three decades.  It has been my privilege to serve people as their pastor, chiropractor, and lawyer.  The current focus of my legal practice and life’s passion is helping the seriously injured receive complete compensation for their injuries. I am a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney. What that really means is that I am no stranger to the courtroom.  I have successfully tried and handled serious cases in state and federal courts.  My backgrounds in both law and chiropractic medicine have given me a unique perspective, extensive knowledge, and wide experience to serve those I represent. For years as a chiropractic physician, I treated my patients to alleviate their pain and suffering. Now as their lawyer, I fight to bring them financial compensation for their pain and suffering. During my years of service, I have handled many traumatic injury cases ranging from the traumatic amputation of a limb to brain and spinal cord injury.  I consider it an honor to serve you and your family. When a person entrusts me and I accept to represent them, I don’t take that relationship and responsibility lightly. My approach is that we work as a team. We are partners and our goal is the best outcome for you and your family with the highest level of communication throughout. I am always available by phone or email to discuss my potential representation of your injury case. I handle cases throughout Florida. Education: National University of Health Sciences – BS (1984), DC (1986) Valparaiso University School of Law – JD, summa cum laude (1999) Bar Admissions: Florida (2000), Indiana (1999), Illinois (2000, expired); US District Courts of Appeals (11th Circuit, 7th Circuit); United States District Courts: Southern and Middle Districts of Florida; Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana; Northern and Central Districts of Illinois; and District of Colorado. Certification:  Civil Trial, Florida Bar Guy DiMartino on Google+ – Circle Guy on Google+ Guy DiMartino on Google+


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