Injury disclaimers – do they prevent the right to claim compensation?

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What is a personal injury disclaimer?

Disclaimers are used to provide a warning to people visiting a premises or partaking in certain activities. They are designed to make sure that people are made aware of foreseeable risks of injury, or where responsibility will rest if items are lost, broken or stolen. Often when we take part in a potentially dangerous activity, the organiser will ask the participants to sign a disclaimer to confirm that they are aware of the risks the activity presents.

Many such disclaimers seem to indicate that the business or organiser can in no way be held liable if there is an injury as a result of the activity. We have all read the wording ‘the Management accept no responsibility for injury or loss of property’. However, the fact is that displaying a notice, or asking someone to sign a disclaimer, does not completely absolve a business or organisation from being held liable should someone end up suffering an injury or a loss. In most cases, disclaimers are not legally binding and we’ve succeeded with many claims for compensation where claimants have signed a disclaimer.

Reduction of risk, not responsibility

Disclaimers should be seen in a good light when they are used correctly. Making sure that people appreciate certain activities are dangerous and that risks are understood is a good thing. We all want to reduce the risk of injury and see less accidents happening. When people know what the risks are, they are minded to act safely and follow instructions carefully. Even with obvious risks, we benefit from being reminded.

However, many businesses or organisations use disclaimers as a way of trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility for health and safety. The wording is aimed to discourage people from pursuing their right to seek compensation for any injury they sustain.

Disclaimers should only be seen as a warning to patrons or participants, rather than a prevention of any liability, and used only to make sure that when the instructions in any signed disclaimer have been followed, the risk of injury should be minimised.

Negligence overrides any disclaimer

The provision of a disclaimer sign, or being required to sign a disclaimer before taking part in an activity, does not absolve the organisation in question from being liable should someone then go on to sustain an injury as a result of their negligence.

When it comes to personal injury compensation, a disclaimer will not be worth the paper it is written on if the organiser of the event or activity has failed to ensure that they have adequately prepared for the risk of injury, or failed to provide the correct equipment, guidance or training needed to minimise the risk of injury.

The responsibilities to ensure that equipment is correctly maintained, properly serviced, risks adequately assessed, safety equipment provided and that hazards are marked and removed where possible, remain regardless of whether or not a disclaimer is signed or displayed. In cases where someone is injured when a business or organisation has failed in any of these areas, liability is likely to attach to that organisation and a claimant will have a strong prospect of succeeding with a claim for personal injury compensation.

On the other hand, if someone has been made fully aware of the risks of an activity and given very specific safety instructions to follow in a disclaimer, and they then chose to ignore that warning and suffer an injury, the injured person would have no viable grounds to pursue a claim for compensation as they have failed to heed the adequate warnings given to them.

A common example

Take a lookDisclaimer: we accept no responsibility for loss or damage at the picture giving an example of a disclaimer sign shown here. The business in question states that they accept no liability for injury, loss or damage arising from the use of this terrace unless prescribed at law. What does this mean? Does it really mean that they have no responsibility for your safety when visiting their premises?

The disclaimer shown is of no use to the business. It does not absolve themselves from the responsibilities that they and any business faces with regards to health and safety. Simply displaying a warning sign doesn’t mean they don’t have to make sure their premises are safe for use.

For example, if a business had erected this sign and then left their terrace littered with tripping hazards, sharp edges or any other risks to injury, and one of their customers were then injured in a fall or suffered a nasty laceration, the business would still be liable for the injury and loss incurred.

Claiming if you are injured after reading or signing a disclaimer

If you have been injured after signing or reading a disclaimer, you can still look to make a claim for personal injury compensation. At Direct2Compensation we can quickly assess whether or not you have a viable claim. In a brief telephone conversation, we’ll be able to advise you whether the disclaimer will be a barrier to you claiming compensation for your injuries and losses.

Thinking about claiming compensation? It’s usually really quick for us to find out if you have a valid claim, just leave a question below or call us on 01225 430285, or .

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Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming...

I signed a disclaimer for cataract operation, I was told I would be able to see without spectacles but not for reading, I was happy with that but in the event my vision is now worse and was told I will need spectacles for long sight.
Before being signed off I was told the results were less than they hoped for and the operated eye now had slightly shorter vision.
Before signing I was advised of the risks but also that I would be able to see clearly without spectacles, so of course I signed.

Ian Morris

The fact that you were presented with and have signed a disclaimer ahead of the surgical procedure is a standard protocol. With the best will in the world, with any surgical procedure, there is a risk that things won’t work out as hoped. Clearly in your case, the outcome is not what you had hoped for or perhaps been told to expect. However, that in and of itself does not indicate that there has been negligent treatment.

You may well have grounds to pursue a claim for clinical negligence compensation, but only if it is found that the way you were treated was incorrect or negligent. Firstly, you need to complain to the Hospital and Department who provided the surgery and ask for clarification of the procedure you underwent and whether anything ‘went wrong’. Depending on the responses, you may wish to seek a 2nd opinion (ask to see a separate specialist). If anyone advises you that the issue could be attributed to a mistake or negligence, you would then be able to pursue a claim for clinical negligence compensation – something we can assist with.

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Can i claim compensation for a broken leg needing surgery and still have ongoing issues 9 months later. If I injured myself on a drop slide having signed an acceptance of risk and Injured myself by how I landed but the website says participants would have a safety briefing for all activities which did not occur for the drop slide.
I signed the accident book and said I was ok and I’d just landed funny when i left to go to hospital but obviously was in shock and didn’t know I should have had a safety briefing or that I would still be having issues 9 months on and still be on restricted duties at work delaying my promotion etc.

Ian Morris

Have you ever made further contact with the venue in question to update them on your injury and query the lack of any safety briefing?

As an accident book entry was completed at the time, it may be possible to pursue a claim for personal injury and if there was any further follow up with the venue in question, there could be sufficient evidence available to enable our specialist Solicitors to succeed with your claim.

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So I went to bongos bingo last night where everyone was encouraged to get up and dance on the benches. I actually fell off and I’ve broken my wrist. On reflection the benches are not stable enough to be on. Do I have a case thanks

Ian Morris

Was an accident book entry completed? If not, make sure you write to the venue/company and report what happened and the injury sustained.

To get further advise with a view to starting your claim for compensation, please call us on 01225430285 or use our website form to request a call from us.

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I slipped in a shop and later emailed them to tell them about my injuries (they did not take my details at the time even though they saw I was clearly injured ) and that I thought they could improve the stairs I slipped on. They emailed back to apologise for not taking my details at the time and that they are getting someone in to improve safety as well as doing a new risk assessment the next day. However at the bottom they have added a disclaimer to say I cannot share their email.
I went to minor injuries the next day to get myself checked out, missed a days pay & am still in pain.
Is there anything I can do to get compensation?

Ian Morris

The attempt to prevent you from sharing what the 3rd party has said to you with chosen trusted parties – such as a Solicitor acting for you in a claim against them is bizarre. On what basis do they consider that they have the ability to prevent you from doing so?

You have done the right thing in emailing the store after they failed to take your details and complete an accident book entry at the time of the incident. This ensures that there is evidence available to support your claim. Please call us on 01225430285 so that we can discuss the incident and help you to start a No Win No Fee claim for personal injury compensation. Alternatively, you can request a call from us by providing some further information via this link: start your claim

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Damaged asbestos has been discovered in my home in the bedroom of a housing association property. I live on the ground floor, i have been requesting that my housing officer and a building inspector needs to visit my property since the end of July last year. I was reassured not to worry they weren’t going to evict me? Offered different options of where I could go or be relocated to, when I had signed a disclaimer.

Ian Morris

In a case like this, it is vital that you ensure that you only enter in to written communications with your housing provider – you should detail all issues of maintenance and risks to your safety or security and you should also cite any issues you have faced in terms of physical pain or emotional distress due to their lackadaisical approach to the reports you have made to them. You should also seek relevant medical attention from your GP to discuss both the physical and emotional trauma caused to you by this incident and request an appropriate referral to a specialist.

Ensuring the above is completed will give you the best possible chance of succeeding with a claim for personal injury compensation – something our Solicitors can assist you with on a No Win No Fee basis.

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Hi Ian, my husband has fallen on a jetty, he has broken his ribs,it had been raining and our jetty was very slippy. Our jettys have not been replaced like all the others. There is a disclaimer as you walk on the jetty.

Ian Morris

Do you know why this jetty had not been replaced and whether the replacement jetty’s would make such a fall less likely? Unless the jetty in question has been reported as hazardous and in need of repair/attention prior to the incident, it is unlikely that it would be possible to succeed with a claim.

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Hi Ian,
I was just doing a quick trawl on the internet regarding disclaimers and came across your article above and your replies to posts. As a H&S professional I just wanted to say that this is a good, balanced and informative review of the use of disclaimers. Also good advice to the posts below. Thanks.
Brod Paul CMIOSH, FIIRSM, FIIAI, MIFireE, MIFSM

Ian Morris

Thank you for your comment.

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I am going on a training day for work and have been informed that I am to take a colleague. How can I state that I take no responsibility for their welfare?

Ian Morris

Your employer cannot compel you to provide transport for a colleague, but by simply providing a lift in your car or by being asked to go to the training with a colleague, you are not liable for their welfare.

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On one side of our block of flats there is a steep slope going down to the basement. It can be seen clearly as one approaches from the entrance to the grounds. However, if one approaches from the garden side, there is a line of bricks where the grass ends and the drop is not seen from that angle. We are intending to put up a danger notice with a picture of someone falling. Would we be liable if someone then fell after the notice went up?

Ian Morris

Who owns the land in question? If there is a walkway that could lead to someone unexpectedly falling over the small wall and down the bank (perhaps in the dark), then erecting a fence would be the right course of action. However, if it is a grassed area and not designed to be a pedestrian access, any person who were to then fall down the bank is likely to be seen to have been the author of their own demise so to speak. Erecting a clear warning sign ahead of and directly at the top of the bank/by the wall would be a sensible move.

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We are small group of woman doing dance exercise in a hall. There isn’t a teacher. Will a disclaimer, signed by everyone be sufficient?

Ian Morris

If you are simply a group convening for the purpose of friendly voluntary exercise/activity, there is unlikely to be any need for any disclaimer. Of course, there is a risk of injury as a result of undertaking an activity such as dance (soft tissue injuries, ankle sprains, muscle pulls etc), but in such circumstances, the only way any such injury could form the basis of a personal injury claim would be if there was a problem with the venue in question – such as floor damage or building disrepair. In which case any claim would be against the organisation responsible for the management and maintenance of the hall.

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We run an allotment where people bring their own Mowers Rotovators Tillers strimmers etc can we as an association put a sign up saying we accept no responsibility for Injuries incurred by use of your own Electrical or Mechanical equipment whilst on this site

Ian Morris

You are well within your rights to erect such a disclaimer.

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I was injured on a water obstacle course had 2 surgeries on my leg . Have evidence with a picture my injuries are due to negligence. I am told from the owner has no insurance and that I did sign a disclaimer.
If he doesn’t have insurance have I any way to make a claim with no insurance ?
Regards

Ian Morris

Is this a water obstacle course that is open to and marketed to the public? If so, one would expect them to have suitable insurance cover in place.

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Many thanks for your speedy reply to my question it clears things up for us. I agree the club have been generous in their offer.

Ian Morris

You are welcome, I hope you enjoy the free night away and that the insurers are speedy in setting the claims for vehicle damage and theft.

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Hi our local village is hoping to hold a plant trail to raise money for charity and encourage people to grow plants.
Residents who grow extra plants will offer the plants for free (donations for charity accepted in a collection pot) on their driveways.

We publish a poster with the day of the trail and the locations / route of the trail.
Would we need any form of insurance? People participating in the trail will be walking cycling or running along the public highway until they get to the individual locations then stand on the driveway to choose the plants they want.

We could do a risk assessment for each plant location and a disclaimer? Do you think this would suffice? Are we just responsible/liable for the time they are on the driveways?

Ian Morris

It is hard to see how you or any of the plant providers could be liable for injury or loss of a participant in such an event. However, it is prudent to ensure that every location is checked to make sure that there are no obvious tripping hazards or risks of injury to those taking part. If any site does present a risk of injury – perhaps some uneven surfaces or steps, erecting a clear hazard warning sign regarding said risks at the entrance to the site would be a good move.

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I am Chairman of a very small classic 4wd drive owners club. Four times a year we like to meet up for a run in various parts of the UK. These are always on the public highway, but often include a substantial amount of ‘green lanes’ which can be uneven, overgrown and for short sections can be challenging. Before the event we ask members to sign a disclaimer to show that they understand the nature of the route and that they are driving on their own insurance. and at their own risk. There is no compulsion to attempt a section that they do not feel competent to drive, although the vehicles themselves are hugely capable. If a driver makes a mistake or attempts a section beyond his capabilities, can the club be held liable if an injury should occur. Is a disclaimer of any use in these circumstances.

Ian Morris

It is hard to see how any individual could hold your club liable should they have an unfortunate accident in the circumstances you describe.

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Hello,
We own a field where we keep horses, at one end is an open area where people park to visit our local Church.
Would we be covered if we put up signs to say we take no responsibility for personal injury or loss from/damage to vehicles, provided of course we regularly check the area for hazzards.
We dont really want to stop people from parking there but equally have not given anyone permission and we dont want to be liable should there be an incident/accident.
Many thanks

Ian Morris

Your plan seems reasonable and fair. Of course, you will be liable if you are found to have been negligent in anyway, so as long as you do undertake regular checks and identify and then remove any hazards – and ensure that the horses are kept securely, you should face no negative consequences.

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I have been asked to sign the following waiver. Can they enforce this specific exemption if they are responsible?

I HEREBY ASSUME ALL OF THE RISKS OF PARTICIPATING IN ANY/ALL ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS EVENT AT THE CLOCKWORK HOTEL, including but not limited to, any risks that may arise from negligence or carelessness on the part of the persons or entities being released (The Clockwork Hotel), from dangerous or defective equipment or property owned, maintained, or controlled by them, or because of their possible liability without fault.

Ian Morris

No organisation can expect to see a waiver of the type you quote stand up in a court. No party can absolve themselves of liability should they have acted negligently!

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I have just started a company doing outdoor activities and have full public liability insurance for the activities we cover. In that case do I actually need to have groups sign a disclaimer?
Thanks for any advice.

Ian Morris

As I have previously said, a disclaimer in and of itself is worthless. However, adding a disclaimer to the full provision of safety warnings, full risk assessments and induction training to all participants in the activities you undertake is a very sensible move.

The disclaimer should reference the training/guidance given and that should any participant fail to act on the instruction and guidance given or not wear the safety items provided, consume alcohol or act in a dangerous and inappropriate way, that you will not accept liability.

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We want to go canyoning, and the form the company running it wants us to sign explicitly states that they will not be liable in case of negligence. Should we sign it?

Ian Morris

No disclaimer and no organisation can avoid liability if they are found to have acted negligently. In this case, the disclaimer should be signed but only once the organisation has provided a comprehensive induction and provided clear advise as to the instructions that you must follow and explained the unavoidable risks that such an activity will present.

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Hi, I’m going to be running beginners snorkelling sessions on my local beach. I’m qualified and have the relevant liability insurance. I’ve been using a waiver – liability and assumption of risk form that the training association uses. I have been told this isn’t necessary as in UK law this wouldn’t stand in court if there was a claim against me. Is this true and what is the legal requirement? I want to ensure that people are aware of the risk, that they conduct themselves in a way that they understand the risk, that they don’t take part if they have any medical or health conditions that would put them or myself at risk or lead to an injury I have to deal with. I’d welcome your advice. Thank you

Ian Morris

Disclaimers have a valid place in the prevention of injury, loss and indeed in being held liable should injury or loss occur. However, simply displaying a disclaimer on it’s own is not a sufficient process to make sure that you cannot be liable.

In your situation, you obviously need to make sure that each and every person joining in a session has been given an appropriate briefing of the process that they will go through, a clear explanation of the ‘do’s and dont’s‘ and perhaps be asked to sign a checklist following such a briefing to confirm that they have been given such a briefing. You’ll also need to ensure that your qualifications remain up to date and that you regularly check your equipment for maintenance issues, repairs and replacements etc.

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