About the Waiver Society Project

"I realize that my participation involves risk of injury and even the possibility of death . . . "

"I realize that my participation involves risk of injury and even the possibility of death . . . "

 

Welcome to The Waiver SOCIETY Project!

Liability waivers (sometimes called releases of liability or exculpatory agreements) are legal documents in which one person agrees to release a second person from responsibility for injuries the person incurs--even injuries that result from negligence on the part of the second person or her employees.

Waivers pervade our society. They appear in sports, recreational activities, apartment leases and condo agreements, university and school activities, birthday parties . . . the list goes on, and chances are, you’ve had to sign one at some point. Even if you did read the waiver, it’s often difficult to tell exactly which rights you’ve signed away. Some waivers are vague and overly broad. Some are unenforceable, either because they are too vague or too broad, or because relevant state law declines to enforce such waivers. Other waivers can successfully prevent you from bringing your claims to court. Each state has different rules for evaluating waivers in court, and these rules are always subject to change. The Waiver Project’s first publication, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3367971, tracks some of these changing rules from the 19th century to present.

The general aim of the Waiver Project is to communicate something about the ubiquity of waivers in our world and to promote better understanding of the role these complex documents play in the world around us. We want to understand the waiver not only as a legal tool, but as a sociological phenomenon. Why are waivers so common in modern society? Whose interests do they serve? Do differences among courts in waiver enforcement translate to better or worse waivers?

In short, we aim to stimulate thinking on the significance of waivers in our society. To this end, we hope to collect, share, and analyze waivers from all across the country.

To do this we need your help!

  • Please send us any and all waivers you have, ideally with the date and time of the conduct in question. Please see the “Contact & Submit” section of the website for instructions on how to submit your waivers, and let us know about your own experience with these strange legal documents.

  • Send us new cases or articles from your jurisdiction so that we can keep the state summaries and bibliography updated.

  • Send news articles that catch your eye about waivers and waiver cases.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Signed,

The Waiver Project Team

Professor John Fabian Witt, Yale Law School

Student Researchers: Ryan Martins and Shannon Price