It’s our delight to introduce a guest blogger
Paul H. Cannon who is a trial attorney and shareholder at
Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. He has been practicing personal injury and product liability law since
1995. He is Certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board
of Legal Specialization since 2005.
Without further adieu below is Paul H. Cannon discussing Should a Divorced
Parent Sign a Waiver (Release) and Indemnity Agreement to Allow a Child
to Participate in Recreational Activities.
There are many kinds of recreational activity providers, many of which
target catering to kid’s parties as a business model. These include
bounce house parks, trampoline parks, exercise and fitness centers, obstacle
courses and Ninja Courses to name a few. Most of these have one thing
in common—you must sign a waiver (release) and indemnity agreement
If you are underage, then your parent must sign a waiver (release) and
indemnity agreement. While all parents who sign a waiver and indemnity
agreement are potentially giving up their kids’ ability to effectively
seek redress if the facility negligently causes their injury, divorced
parents face an additional risk that could leave them personally liable
for the cost of the judgment and the defense.
What is a Waiver of Liability or Release of Liability?
of liability a/k/a
of liability is a written agreement not to hold someone responsible for their negligence.
If properly drafted, Texas allows people to sign a waiver of liability
or release of liability even
before the negligence occurs. If this document is signed by an adult, it is valid
as to the adult. Kids, however, enjoy a special privilege under the law.
They have the right to void a contract signed on their behalf that is not
in their best interest. So, when a parent signs a waiver/release, the
child can have it declared void and still sue the negligent tortfeasor
when they are injured. The parent, who has the right to collect the medical
bills, can still be barred from collecting the medical bills up to the
child’s 18th birthday if the parent signed the same waiver.
What is an Indemnity Agreement?
indemnity agreement is a contract wherein one party agrees to assume or take on the liability
of another party.
The best example of an indemnity agreement is an auto liability insurance
policy. It can also be added to a contract between a person participating
in a recreational activity and the participant to make the participant
assume the responsibility for the company’s own negligence.
Indemnity Agreements and Children’s Claims
Parents are often required to sign both a Release and an indemnity agreement
before allowing their child to participate at trampoline parks and other
recreational businesses. Again, it is a contract. Thus, a minor can have
it declared void as to the minor. The parent, however, is bound by it.
So, let’s assume only one parent signed the release.
When the child is injured that parent cannot get out of the waiver nor
the indemnity agreement. The other parent can file suit on behalf of the
child. However, the company will be able to cross-claim against the signor
parent and sue them for the amount of the judgment plus their attorney
fees. That debt will be community property, so both parents will owe it.
As a result, the waiver and indemnity agreement deters both parents from
bringing a claim.
The Divorced Parent Situation
When the parents are divorced, the effect of the release and indemnity
agreement is the same as to the signing parent. However, as to the non-signing
parent, it does not have the same deterring factor.
The non-signing parent is no longer married to the signing parent, so they
do not face the community property debt problem. Moreover, because they
do not necessarily care if the other parent gets stuck with more debt,
they can bring a claim for the child and let the company turn around and
sue the signing parent for whatever judgment and attorney fees they incur.
Signing a Pre-Injury Release and Indemnity Agreement
As you can see from the above, signing a waiver (release) and indemnity
agreement have serious consequences that affect a child’s ability
to pursue justice when a recreational activity provider negligently injures them.
They are very dangerous to sign regardless of whether you are single, divorced
or married. However, if you are divorced and considering letting your
kid participate in an event that requires the signing of a waiver and
indemnity agreement, you are way better off letting your ex-spouse be
the one who signs the document. At a minimum, you should never be the
only parent to sign for your child—make your ex-spouse sign too.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
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- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Three
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law, Part Two
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law: An Overview
- Child Support Enforcement Defense - Act Sooner Rather than Later
- Can my Texas Driver's License Be Suspended for Not paying Child Support?
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