Are Liability Waivers Enforceable in New York?

Liability waivers are increasingly a part of every activity, whether the venture is particularly risky or not. Some of them are not enforceable in New York– which is why if you are hurt after signing one, you should obtain legal counsel right away.

Many people believe that after signing a waiver, they cannot pursue legal action if they are hurt. However, it all depends on the situation. For example, entities promoting inherently dangerous activities, such as skydiving, will require the signing of a liability waiver– before a customer can get on the plane.

Perhaps you experienced a successful skydive, but later slipped and fell and broke your leg in the company’s poorly maintained parking lot. Under these circumstances, signing a liability waiver does not preclude your right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

The other party involved will likely allege you cannot sue them. Always take that information with a grain of salt since a personal injury attorney can advise you whether you can pursue a claim. Many businesses, including gyms, may tell you there is no legal recourse even though the management knows their waivers are unenforceable.

A New York City personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will investigate the cause of the accident thoroughly and hold those responsible accountable. Our dedicated attorneys have recovered more than $18 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients.

Liability Waivers

Liability waivers are contract provisions supposedly releasing an entity from liability for injuries connected to an activity. For example, a gym membership contract might specify that the gym is not liable for injuries you sustained, which would prevent you from suing and recovering damages.

However, New York’s General Obligations Law voids waivers from certain enterprises that include:

  • Public pools
  • Gymnasiums
  • Public recreational facilities
  • Public amusement facilities

The other caveat is that the operator receives a fee for facility use. If you paid a fee to use the facility and were injured, the waiver is not enforceable. Keep in mind that the business may allege that the facility was used for educational, rather than recreational purposes– or that someone other than the person who signed the liability waiver paid their entrance fee.

Some businesses might allege that the facility was used for training, not recreation. These are the strategies that organizations have used to get around the New York statute, but a seasoned attorney can counter them, and help protect your legal rights.

Liability Waivers and Minors

Under New York law, minors are not bound to the terms of any contract signed, so a liability waiver signed by a person until 18 is voidable. If the parent signed the waiver, under New York law that does not bind the waiver for a minor’s death or injury. These waivers often involve school or camp activities, including field trips, sports, clubs, and trips to recreational facilities.

Waiver Language

When it comes to enforcing a waiver, language is everything. Some businesses have their attorneys craft carefully worded waivers that will preclude the filing of a lawsuit. However, many companies use standard “boilerplate” waivers that are not enforceable.  


Even a waiver that would stand up in court– does not excuse negligence on the part of the organization’s management. New York laws do not permit such releases to override an individual’s legal rights if their injuries result from said negligence.

Contact a New York Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one were seriously injured due to another party’s negligence, and you signed a liability waiver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London immediately. Arrange a free consultation by calling or texting us 24/7 or completing our online contact form.

We will review your case, examine the waiver, and let you know your options. While the majority of cases are settled, we will proceed to court if the insurance company or the defendant does not agree to a reasonable settlement. There is no fee unless you receive compensation. Hablamos Español.