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Waiver

New Adventures – Ladies Paintball

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  I am a law student.  In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences and opinions.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to entice me to do new things so I’ll have something interesting to write about.

So this past week the girls and I went to Ladies Night at the paintball field.  Westworld Paintball Adventures has a great deal for women.  Every Friday night ladies play for free, except for the cost of our ammunition.

My group consisted of four law students, one church friend, and two friends of friends.  When we arrived, the first thing we did was sign our waivers of liability.  Like eager law students, Barbi and I immediately scanned the verbiage for a clause preventing us from altering any of the terms of the contract.  Not seeing one, we immediately started crossing out anything that would release the company from liability for injuries caused by its own negligence.  The other law students in our group, acting like efficient/lazy law students, asked us to read the contract for them and make sure it was ok.  The clerk said it was rare for someone to actually read the waiver before signing it.

After signing our waivers and buying our ammo, we were issued protective vests, goggles, paintball guns, and team armbands.  We loaded our guns and headed onto the field.  We played five games with another group of teenage girls and a bunch of regulars.  In my first game, I was hit in my goggles.  It didn’t hurt.  I didn’t realize I was hit until I felt that my hair was wet with paint.  I was disappointed that my friends had the real experience of being hit with a paintball.  I wanted the experience too!

And boy did I get it.

In the next game I took two hits at point blank range.  One shot hit me on my uncovered neck and the other hit my side just below my arm.  At first I thought my neck was bleeding, but it was just the oily paint running down my skin.  It stung for hours.  One of the clerks said that the bruise on my side will take some time to heal.  I like to think of it as a battle wound.

During the next few days I had a singing audition, a gala, a prank, and a tweet up.   It was fun telling everyone that the bruise on my neck wasn’t a hickey.

Photo courtesy of  Merlz Tamondong.

Half Marathon Recap Part II – The Legal Side

When I signed up for the half marathon back in August, I knew my fee was non-refundable.  I have no recollection if I checked a box for a waiver at that time. 

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Image by g. rox via Flickr

Fast forward to January – I got my confirmation email with a link to get my “Packet Pickup Confirmation Sheet.”  I needed to sign and turn it in at the pre-race health expo to get my race number and microchip.  On this form was a “Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement” that was over three inches of small print.  It seems pretty sneaky for the organizers to get us to pay our money and then tell us what we had to agree to in order to participate. 

Here’s what the waiver said:
(You/your = the runner; We/us/our = the organizers)

  • Neither you nor your heirs can sue the organizers, sponsors, or municipalities for any reason related to the race.
  • You can’t sue if you’re injured or die during the race, even if we’re negligent.
  • We can use your name and photo without paying you for it.
  • If the event is cancelled or delayed, we won’t give you a refund.
  • You will pay all expenses for your medical care related to doing the race.

Past research of Arizona case law taught me that signing a waiver that releases an entity from liability, even if that entity is negligent, will be upheld by the court.  So basically, if you sign the waiver and get hurt, you can’t sue and win.  All the runners I talked to before the race said that they signed the waiver without reading it.  However, I remembered something from contract law that said if you cross out the terms of the contract that you don’t like before you sign it, that it removes those terms from the agreement.  I went through the waiver and crossed out the clause that released them from liability for their negligence and the clause that said I’m responsible for all race related medical expenses.  I used a bright royal blue ballpoint pen to cross out the clauses so they couldn’t claim that my marks could be mistaken for a bad print job from my printer. 

When I went to the pre-race expo, I brought clean copy of the waiver in case they didn’t accept my version of the agreement.  It ends up I didn’t need it.  The volunteer accepted my agreement without any questions. 

I emailed my personal injury attorney friend and he said what I did would probably hold up in court.  Looking back, I’m surprised that the agreement didn’t have a clause that said that participants couldn’t alter the waiver before signing it or that the organizers didn’t tell the expo volunteers not to accept waivers that had been altered.

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