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Enforceability of Waivers of Liability in New Jersey

New Jersey Sports Accident Law: Are Waivers of Liability Enforceable?

Under New Jersey law, waivers of liability may be enforceable. The answer depends on the situation and facts.  While the majority of waivers of liability are signed prior to participation in sporting events, recreation events, gym memberships, etc., some waivers of liability can also be in leases or business contracts.  

Whether a waiver of liability will be upheld again, depends on the specific facts of the case.  Absent fraud, concealment, duress or misrepresentation, waivers of liability in New Jersey will be enforced unless they are 1. unconscionable or 2. enforcement implicates public policy. Also, waivers will not be enforced if they seek to limit liability for intentional or reckless conduct.

Waivers of Liability are Contracts of Adhesion

In New Jersey, waivers of liability are considered to be “contracts of adhesion”.  What this means is that waivers are generally standardized forms which are presented and signed on a “take it or leave it” basis, without opportunity to negotiate.  Despite this, New Jersey courts will uphold a waiver of liability unless it is unconscionable to do so or there is some issue of public policy at play.

In most situations it is very difficult to establish that a contract is unconscionable. Factors important to the issue of whether a contract is unconscionable include:
  • the subject matter of the contract,
  • the parties' relative bargaining positions,
  • the degree of economic compulsion motivating the 'adhering' party, and
  • the public interests affected by the contract.

Whether a waiver of liability implicates matters of public policy depends on balancing the public’s interest in the type of thing being contracted versus the individual rights of the parties.  In gym accident situations, the public policy being implicated is the encouragement of exercise. In fact, in gym liability waiver cases in New Jersey, such waivers will generally be upheld, again absent fraud or deception.  

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a sports accident or gym accident in New Jersey and you’d like to discuss your waiver of liability, contact the injury lawyers at White and Williams.  Our lawyers will review your case with you and advise you on how to proceed.  Call now. 877.944.8396

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