Waiving Pains: How Recreational Businesses in Quebec Fool You Into Not Suing them for Bodily Injuries

waiver

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and you and your friends are going paintballing. You get there, pay your money, and are presented with a standardized form that probably looks a lot like this:

I hereby waive all right to claim damages from X (the paintballing place) for any physical injury occurring during this activity.

You sign it figuring there’s no harm in doing so. Nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong.

You and your friends suit up: body armor, helmet, and those ugly jumpsuits. The paintball gun guy hands you your weapon and ammo and gives you a quick tutorial on their use. What none of you know is that the paintball gun guy is having a bad day and didn’t inspect the guns as he normally should.

Off you go into the field. You try to fire at one of your friends but something goes wrong and the gun explodes in your hand, destroying three of your fingers. You spend a day or three in the hospital contemplating your mangled hand and career options as a result. You KNOW the paintball company is probably responsible for your predicament…

…But you signed that waiver…

You CAN’T sue…

Right?

WRONG!

Clauses in waivers saying that you can’t sue for bodily harm are illegal in Quebec.

Companies willfully and deliberately take advantage of the fact that most people don’t know this in order to try and avoid getting sued. Don’t get suckered into believing that you waived your right to damages for bodily injury by signing that waiver.

It is unfortunate that most amusement parks and other recreational companies won’t let you participate in their activities without signing a waiver like this.

But you can go ahead and sign it.

The clause freeing them of any responsibility for your injuries has as much worth as play money. If the company is grossly or deliberately negligent, meaning they screwed up so badly you’re (for example) eating through a straw or lost your house, waivers are completely invalid, regardless of the nature of the damages.

The courts won’t enforce them.

Don’t believe me? Check the Quebec Civil Code. Articles 1470 to 1477 are very clear.

So enjoy your paintballing, zip lining, or go-karting, and take comfort in the fact that if the company screws up, you can make them pay.

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