Was Your Child Injured in Dance Class? The Assumption of Risk Form May Not Apply

When an injury occurs in a public establishment that provides classes or services, liability for damages may be limited or negated by a signed assumption of risk form.

Understanding the Assumption of Risk

Businesses that offer instructional classes and membership services to customers often require customers to sign an assumption of risk form, a type of liability waiver, prior to participation. This form protects business owners and/or employees from injury liability and potential personal injury claims and lawsuits for damages.

The assumption of risk doctrine states that when a person knows the injury risks associated with an activity, he/she accepts that risk when voluntarily engaging in the activity. Therefore, that person can not sue for damages based upon injuries that arise from the given activity. Assumption of risk is an affirmative defense often used by injury victims and accident lawyers when negligent actions of another party are responsible for injuries. However, the defendant must prove “assumption of the risk” by proving that the plaintiff knew there was a risk of injury, and caused the injury by his/her negligent actions.

In certain cases where an instructor is an independent contractor, rather than an employee of the business, liability waivers may be complicated. As an independent contractor without a contractual agreement with the business, the instructor is not covered under the business insurance. An injury victim may file a claim directly against the instructor, since the business is protected under an assumption of risk waiver. In other cases, the injury victim may sue both the business and the instructor, if proof of negligent actions can be shown.

If injuries occur is a dance studio or a gym, the injury victim will most likely sue the business owner, then the owner’s insurance company must review the injury claim. Liability for injuries will depend on company policies, the victim’s contract, how injuries occurred, and whether negligence played a role. If the injury victim is a minor, the assumption of risk form may not apply because most injury waivers apply to people over legal age, usually 21 years of age.

Anyone who enrolls in Nevada classes or participates in membership-based consumer services provided by a business must be aware of assumption of risk forms and understand what they mean. Once the form is signed, it may be impossible to pursue an injury claim for damages. If the language is confusing, a Henderson accident lawyer can explain legal terms and form restrictions.