New Hampshire has long followed a fairly straightforward rule that if you sign a waiver of liability then it is enforceable against the one that signed it. These waivers can prevent any claim for negligence against places like amusement parks, trampoline parks, or even zip line ropes courses when someone gets injured.  In contrast, we also know that children cannot sign their own contracts, as they are minors. So what happens when I sign a waiver for my child at one of these parks?

These are important questions, especially for the summer months when parents are looking for activities to keep their children busy and engaged while out of school. In New Hampshire, the first case was McKenna v. American Institute for Foreign Study and the judge in that case ruled any waiver signed by a parent could not be enforced against their child. This was a federal court case. The court reasoned primarily that since a parent could not release liability of another without Court approval (aka the minor settlement process under Rule 40 of the NH Superior Court), then it makes little sense to conclude the parent can waive liability.

The most recent case was from Hillsborough Superior Court where a child was injured in a chair lift accident. This case was called Perry v. Southern NH Development (aka Crotched Mountain). The Court invalidated the waiver saying a parent could not waive a child’s legal rights without court approval. Thus, the Court invalidated the waiver and allowed the child to proceed with their injury claim for negligence against the ski resort.

Waivers can generate confusing results for some, as adults can waive any claims they might bring at these facilities with limited exceptions. So, a theoretical outcome could be, a child and parent both get injured at a ski resort and only the child can bring a claim. This is because the parent signed a release for themselves and their child, and only the one the parent signed can be enforced.

If you were injured and signed a waiver for yourself or your child, contact the experienced attorneys at PMM Law and we can help you determine whether your claim can proceed.

We have to locations to serve you:

25 Nashua Road Suite C5, Londonderry, NH 03053. The phone number is (603) 434-6331.

137 Main Street, P.O Box 669, N. Woodstock, NJ 03262. The phone number is (603) 745-8600.