Legal Lens: Parents can expect to see more summer camp liability waivers

Legal Lens

The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS – Signing liability waivers isn’t anything new, but following the experiences of the COVID pandemic, it appears as if more businesses are requiring them.

With kids going off to summer camp, parents are having to deal with the issue of signing those same waivers.

“We are seeing a lot of summer camps requiring parents sign liability waivers. This has always been the case but more so now since pandemic started,” said Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen.

What kind of things are you seeing? Does it include vaccinations or something else?

“It includes release of summer camp. Really, this is for any releases you might find, like a gym membership or a trampoline facility, to let your kids go to a birthday party,” she said. “What releases do, they usually contain a waiver or clause that releases the (business) from any future liability for injuries.”

But what if the place was negligent? What kind of rights do families have with this?

“Well…private businesses can require them, but the law does govern what can be released and what can’t, so I always advise parents to keep a copy of the release and read it before you sign it,” McNairy said.

So, any business can say “you have to sign this” or you can’t have your kids at our camp?

“Correct. Every state has different laws on whether a state can let a parent release a minor through a liability waiver,” McNairy said. “Illinois, no; Missouri has more discretion. They have allowed some waivers to stand but even then there is a test if it’s against public policy, what is being released, is it gross negligence, so every liability waiver is very unique.”

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