Many after school activities, particularly athletic activities, require parents to sign a waiver if they want their children to be able to participate. If their child is subsequently injured, they might be left to wonder if they are allowed to sue the school or other parties responsible for the injury. School sports waivers may contain fine print that appears to protect the school from a wide range of consequences in the event of an injury. Parents should take those waivers with a grain of salt, however. Schools are not allowed to negligently injure your child and simply point to the waiver as a “get out of jail free” card.
One noteworthy piece of fine print that has made its way into many waiver forms is protection from costing a child the right “generally to enjoy life.” That term refers to the loss of life enjoyment. Damages based on this theory could include the inability to participate in sports, play a musical instrument or otherwise enjoy life in ways that do not produce wages.
The leading innovator of this form of damages first presented expert testimony in an Illinois federal court proceeding regarding wrongful death. That case established the right of an injured person to claim hedonic damages, which are vital to truly helping victims get compensation for what they have lost. While lost wages are certainly important, they do not make up everything we lose when we suffer a lifelong injury.
Regardless of the language you see in a waiver form, if you or your child has been injured by the negligent or wrongful acts of another, you should speak to an attorney. Waivers are not a license to behave badly.