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Warning: Read the Release Before You Sign

The P.F. Chang Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in Maricopa County occurred this month. Nearly 20,000 runners finished these two races that spanned across Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe.

Before the race, each participant was required sign a “release and waiver of liability agreement.” This is a contract between the runner and the organizers. This agreement states that the runner assumes all the risks related to the race. If the runner is injured or dies during the race, the runner or his/her heirs may not sue the race organizers, the cities, or any of the sponsors for damages. The runner will be solely responsible for any medical expenses and other expenses…no matter what.

The majority of runners sign this release without reading it. If you are participating in an event and you sign this release as is, you have no recourse if you are injured. Saying that you did not read the release before you signed it is not a valid argument because you had ample time to read the release before you signed it. You may not sue the organizers for damages because you didn’t review the terms of the contract before you agreed to abide by them.

All hope is not lost. You may read the release form, and you can change the terms by crossing out the provisions with which you disagree and signing your initials next to the cross outs. You may also handwrite and initial any provisions you wish to add to the contract. There are associated with any athletic or recreational activity. You cannot avoid all liability for injuries that may result. For example, you cannot avoid personal liability if you participate in a marathon and you trip over your own feet and sprain your ankle. If you altered your waiver, you could hold the organizers financially responsible if they are grossly negligent and you are injured as a result. An example of gross negligence would be if the organizers failing to have the roads closed to vehicular traffic during the race and you are hit by a car.

You may have previously agreed to the terms of the waiver as it was originally written when you signed up for the race. There was probably a box you had to check if you signed up online that served as your acceptance of the terms. It is a good idea to write in a term on your altered waiver that states that the agreement supersedes any previous agreements between the parties.

Runners were required to turn in their hard copy waivers to receive their race packets. If the race organizers accepted the waiver with the handwritten changes, it becomes the new agreement between the parties. If you change the contract so that the organizers are responsible for your injuries that they cause, and you are injured during the race due to their negligence, you have a chance to sue them for damages.

If you have been injured in an athletic or recreational event, please contact the Phoenix personal injury lawyers at the personal injury law firm Oracle Law Group today.

Photo credit: Andy Jou from Flickr