A common request you may encounter when participating in many of the activities offered throughout Kansas City is for you (or members of your family) to sign a liability waiver. Such waivers essentially stipulate that if you (or your family member) is injured while participating in the activity, the activity provider cannot be held liable for your injuries. Typically your participation in the activity is contingent on you agreeing to the terms of the waiver. Yet if you do (or do so for a family member) and then you (or your family member) are injured, are they absolutely no options for you to seek legal recourse?
The answer to that question depends on the circumstances of the incident that caused the injury. As a 2013 Missouri Court of Appeals ruling detailed, the state does not recognize degrees of negligence. In many instances, negligence may indeed be measured on a scale, with recklessness simply referring to one not contemplating the consequences of an action, while gross negligence is a recognizable indifference to the safety and well-being of others. Yet as this ruling demonstrates, even instances of gross negligence in the state may not overcome the protections afforded through a liability waiver.
So what does this mean to you? As long as an activity provider is clear in addressing the risks associated with their activity in a waiver, they may likely be protected from liability even if their gross negligence results in you (or your family member) being involved in accident while participating in said activity. If, however, the details of a waiver are not specific, court officials may determine that the risks you (or your family member) were assuming were not adequately communicated to you, which would them hold the activity provider liable.