Did you hear?... Colorado Supreme court rules parents cannot, by signing a liability waiver, release a minor's right to sue

The Colorado Supreme court recently ruled that parents cannot, by signing a liability waiver, release a minor's right to sue.

The Colorado Supreme court recently ruled that parents cannot, by signing a liability waiver, release a minor's right to sue. According to legal experts who talked with SNEWS® , the ruling was really no surprise. In fact, prior to this case, very few state courts have even allowed pre-injury/liability releases to be signed by parents on behalf of their children. The case that led to the Colorado Supreme Court ruling involved David Cooper, a skier who suffered severe injuries, including blindness, during a training race with the Aspen Valley Ski Club when he was 17. Cooper had been racing for 9 years, and both he and his mother had signed liability waivers. David and his parents brought suit against the US Ski Association, Aspen Skiing Co., the Club and his coach for negligence and breach of contract (among other claims). A lower court dismissed the claims by the Coopers, and the decision was upheld in a Court of Appeals. However, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the lower-court rulings, stating "the public policy of Colorado affords minors significant protections that preclude a parent or guardian from releasing a minor's own prospective claim for negligence." The court did write that the state legislature could change the policy and modify what rights and protection are given minors. SNEWS® View: For the time being, this ruling could prove problematic for any outfitter, school, or guide service doing business with minors. It is likely this could lead to increases in insurance premiums -- if insurers are even willing to undertake underwriting the risk, and that is no sure proposition. The alternative would be to stop doing business with minors -- and that's no solution at all in an industry that is trying so hard to open its arms to more youthful participation. It is quite likely that the outdoor industry (are you listening OIA?) will have to begin chasing down legislative recourse at both state and federal levels to stave off a legal and financial weight that could drag the industry down further.


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