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Kissimmee Personal Injury & Criminal Attorney > Blog > Personal Injury > Are Liability Waivers Always the Final Word? A Look at OceanGate Expeditions

Are Liability Waivers Always the Final Word? A Look at OceanGate Expeditions


There was no word from the tiny undersea vessel.  The Titan submersible had been missing for nearly two hours, and the world waited for news with bated breath. According to the U.S. Navy, there was evidence suggesting an underwater implosion, but the search continued as everyone hoped for good news.  It was not to come. The craft that had descended on a mission to view the Titanic shipwreck would never again surface, and the five people aboard would not survive.

Signed Liability Waivers 

Everyone who boarded the submersible had signed liability waivers that acknowledged the potential risks associated with the trip. Every passenger knowingly took the trip, accepting the possibility of emotional trauma, physical injury, disability, and even death, and they each relinquished the right to sue for any losses that might occur. They recognized the risks and took the journey. So are grieving families stuck with no power for recourse?

Court Rulings 

When these kinds of cases make it into a courtroom, judges have to look at the details of the document and weigh that against factors such as whether those signing the waivers actually understood what they were signing, and just how dangerous the activity was. Additionally, questions about whether information that might have influenced one’s willingness to participate was suppressed will be considered. Was there negligence in the development, construction, or maintenance of machinery or tools? Certainly, if negligence on the part of the company can be demonstrated, it would invalidate any liability waivers!

What About Waivers in Other Circumstances? 

People sign liability waivers all the time, when they go skydiving, rock climbing, or other activities.  They may be unenforceable if written poorly or if the party issuing the waiver can be deemed grossly negligent. When children experience harm, such waivers are often unenforceable because many courts have determined that parents don’t have the ability to surrender a child’s right to sue if negligence results in harm. Other factors considered include:

  • Whether the waiver was buried in other documents;
  • Whether the waiver was clear and specific;
  • Whether the waiver was customized to the specifics of the situation, or it was a generic document;
  • Whether the risks involved are clearly outlined;
  • Whether the waiver meets state laws.

Are You Barred from Seeking Damages? 

Have you signed a liability waiver, only to later suffer serious injury? Does your signature on that document preclude you from seeking damages to address the costs associated with your physical and emotional recovery? Every case is different, to be sure. To determine your legal rights going forward, schedule a confidential consultation with the knowledgeable Kissimmee personal injury attorneys at Salazar & Kelly Law Group today.

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