In a recent opinion, an appellate court addressed the validity of exculpatory clauses in Florida personal injury lawsuits. The court certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court regarding the extent to which exculpatory clauses are enforceable.
The issue stems from a contract dispute between a travel agency and a Florida corporation that specializes in website development. The two parties executed a service agreement that included a provision stating that the website developer would not be liable for any damages, and waived all claims against them. The lower court noted that the exculpatory clause rendered the entire service agreement illusory. The court explained that the contract was both illusory and amounted to an “unenforceable agreement to agree.” The case was appealed to the Florida Court of Appeals.
The Florida Court of Appeals explained that Florida contracts require several elements to be valid. A valid contract includes acceptance, consideration, and sufficient specification of essential terms. However, unsure how to rule on this specific issue, the court certified a question regarding the validity of exculpatory clauses in Florida contracts to the state’s high court.
Exculpatory Clauses in Florida Personal Injury Cases
Exculpatory clauses are terms in a contract that relieve one party of any liability if the other party incurs any damage or injury. Often, this clause is termed a “liability waiver” or “release waiver” and is contained in contracts that individuals are asked to sign before engaging in an activity. For example, this clause is frequently seen when people purchase tickets to an amusement park or concert. The provision will typically require the participant to acknowledge the risks of participating in the activity or event and removes liability from the contractor. However, even if a party signs a liability of waiver, there are still ways to successfully file a personal injury lawsuit against the culpable party.
Generally speaking, liability waivers are valid unless they are unclear or ambiguous. Injured parties that hope to collect damages must establish that they did not completely understand the rights they were giving up by signing the agreement. Moreover, these agreements only apply to claims of negligence because, under state law, parties cannot waive liability for reckless or intentional behavior.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?
If you have been injured in any type of accident and signed an exculpatory clause, you may still be able to recover for the injuries you sustained. When a party signs a waiver of liability, a subsequent lawsuit might be more involved, but a release waiver is not an insurmountable hurdle. One of the dedicated Florida injury attorneys at Frankl Kominsky can help you understand your rights and remedies. The attorneys have extensive experience handling complex Florida personal injury lawsuits, including Florida car accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death cases. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Compensation may include award amounts for medical expenses, property damage, as well as for any pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident. Contact one of our attorneys today at 561-567-0214 to schedule your free initial consultation.