Most people who have been to an amusement park, ski resort, or concert venue have seen the small print printed on the back of their ticket. Far fewer people have actually taken the time to read and understand what the text says. However, this language is very important because it contains crucial information about the rights the ticket holder has should something go wrong while they are participating in the activity. And regardless of whether the ticket holder knows it, in most cases, proceeding to engage in the activity can actually act as an acceptance of the terms contained in this small print.
One important term that businesses often slip into the small print is an arbitration clause. An arbitration clause is a contractual term between two parties that acts as an agreement not to use the court system should something go wrong. Rather than use the court system, the injured or aggrieved party agrees to submit their claim to an arbitration panel that will decide whether the claim has merit and if so, how much the injured party is entitled to receive.
Arbitration has many benefits for businesses, including lowering the cost of defending a claim and keeping the results of all claims confidential. Additionally, since the business determines which arbitration company hears the claims against it, the results tend to favor businesses over those who are seeking relief. Generally speaking, arbitration should be avoided by personal injury plaintiffs, if possible. However, since companies often slip arbitration clauses into their contracts, sometimes victims do not have a choice.
While a valid arbitration clause is binding and requires a plaintiff to follow through with their agreement to arbitrate, not all arbitration clauses are agreed to knowingly. If this is the case, the injured party may not be compelled to arbitrate their claim and may instead use the court system. A recent case illustrates how the parents of an injured child were able to avoid arbitration despite signing a contract containing an arbitration clause.
Alicea v. Activelaf: The Facts
The Aliceas took their two sons to a trampoline park. Before they were permitted into the park, they had to sign a waiver form. The form consisted of three large blocks of text. Buried in the middle of one of the blocks of text was an arbitration clause. The Aliceas signed the form and were admitted into the park.
During their stay at the park, one of their sons was injured. They filed a personal injury lawsuit in a court, ignoring the arbitration clause. The trampoline park asked the court to dismiss the case and require the plaintiffs to submit the case to arbitration, since they had signed the contract agreeing to do so. However, the court refused to enforce the arbitration clause. The court explained that it was unlikely that the Aliceas knew what they were agreeing to when they signed the contract because the language discussing arbitration was hidden. As a result, the Aliceas will be permitted to pursue their claim in the court system.
Have You Been Injured After Signing a Waiver?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Georgia accident, you may still be entitled to compensation even if you signed a release-waiver or an arbitration agreement. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Miller Legal Services have successfully fought on behalf of their injured clients’ rights in numerous cases. Call 770-284-3727 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated and experienced Georgia personal injury attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Appellate Court Takes a Second Look at Employer Liability in Car Accident Case, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 17, 2016.
Georgia Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed Based on Defendant’s Lack of Knowledge of the Hazardous Condition Causing Plaintiff’s Fall, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 2, 2016.