Waivers and Releases Do Not Eliminate Liability for Gross Negligence: Ask the Injury Lawyer

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Tennessee Law on Contracting Away Liability

Chances are you’ve signed a Waiver or Release of Liability. Maybe you were going whitewater rafting or visited an indoor trampoline or “bouncy house” park. Businesses providing recreational activities generally require you to sign a form with lots of fine print before you can participate. These forms generally absolve the business of liability if you get hurt. Is that legal? Yes.  But there’s one thing to remember: In Tennessee, a person or business cannot contract away liability for “gross negligence.” That’s why you need to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you are injured, but someone tells you they’re not responsible because you signed a Release or Waiver.

Tennessee law allows people to enter into contracts that say that ABC will not be liable and that XYZ is “assuming the risk,” including the risk that ABC might commit negligence.  However, the law says that such a contract will not protect ABC if ABC is guilty of gross negligence. Buckner v. Varner, 793 S.W.2d 939, 941 (Tenn. Ct. App.1990).

What is Gross Negligence?

What is gross negligence and how is it different from regular negligence?  Regular negligence is the failure to use ordinary or reasonable care.  Gross negligence involves a higher degree of “bad” conduct and callous indifference to consequences. That’s why Tennessee law won’t allow people to contract away liability for gross negligence.  However, it’s harder to prove that someone committed gross negligence. You have to show:

  • The person committed ordinary negligence, and
  • The person acted “with utter unconcern for the safety of others, or … with such a reckless disregard for the rights of others that a conscious indifference to consequences is implied . . .” Leatherwood Wadley, 121 S.W.3d 682, 693–94 (Tenn. Ct. App.2003).

Consult with an Injury Lawyer

If you are injured or hurt while participating in a recreational activity, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer. Don’t automatically assume that you can’t recover because you signed a Release or Waiver. A personal injury lawyer can examine the language of any form you signed and can advise you whether you might have a claim.

Need an Injury Lawyer? We can help.

Call Wiseman Bray PLLC at (901) 372-5003 or email us here.  Visit our website to learn more about us and our work. Offices in Memphis and Nashville.

Texting and Walking? Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer

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Texting and Walking:  Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer

Do you walk and text? If you are like most people, you probably do.  This personal injury lawyer advises you to stop! While we know that texting and driving is dangerous and has been banned in Tennessee, research also shows that pedestrians who are distracted with their phones are more likely to be hit by a vehicle.  According to one analyst, the number of pedestrian injuries due to cell phone use tripled over a a 7 year period (2004-2010), and the numbers continue to rise.

What if a Car Hits Me But I was Texting While Walking?

Call a personal injury lawyer. If you were walking and texting when you were hit, the driver’s insurance company will probably say you were at fault, but that is not necessarily always the case.  You should still speak with a personal injury lawyer about the specific facts of your case. In Tennessee, we have what is called “Comparative Fault.” That means you may be able to recover for your injuries, even if you bear some portion of the fault, as long as your fault isn’t equal to or greater than the driver’s fault.  You need a good personal injury lawyer who can sort through the facts and determine whether you are entitled to recovery.

(1)  Don’t text and walk. If you are injured, it could reduce or even eliminate any damages you would have otherwise been entitled to.

(2)  If you are injured while texting and walking, don’t automatically assume you are at fault. Call an injury lawyer to make sure.

Call Wiseman Bray PLLC. We Can Help.

When you need a lawyer, call Wiseman Bray PLLC. Contact us at 901-372-5003 or email us here.  We take cases throughout Tennessee and Mississippi, including Memphis, Shelby County, Bartlett, Germantown, and Cordova.