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Alberta Law: Waivers

Most people have signed waivers at gyms, sporting events, ski-hills and other events and never thought twice about them. However, there is caselaw which has developed around these documents. Many people think they are annoying "legalese", but in reality they can really affect your legal rights.

A properly drafted and handled waiver can remove civil liability from organizations using them. if you are injured, you may not be able to sue. In order to actually affect your legal rights, the waiver has to be explained and your attention drawn to it. Otherwise, it is possible that it is not enforceable.

Most ski hill lift tickets have waivers of the risks and hazards associated with their park, and these waivers are often upheld. However, waiving the ski-hill's own negligence can be more difficult. The recent BCCA case o Apps v. Grouse Mountain Resorts 2020BCCA78 dealt with a situation where the ski-hill did not bring sufficient attention to a snowboarder that it would be relieved of its own negligence. The snowboarder was subsequently badly injured. The court said at paragraph 59:

,,, we are left with the trial judge’s unequivocal findings at paras 36–38 and 47:

• The sign at the ticket booth was “difficult to read”;

• The own negligence exclusion was “not highlighted or emphasized in any way”, but was buried in small print among m

any commas and semi-colons;

• “It is unrealistic to believe that a person approaching the ticket booth would stop in front of the window to read the sign.”

Waivers can be effective, but not always. If you are in a business that requires a waiver, or have been injured and wish to see if the waiver is enforceable, please feel free to contact us.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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