The summer travel season is in full swing and AAA estimates nearly 100 million Americans will take a family vacation in 2019.
After incidents like the deadly shark attack of a 21-year-old California woman in the Bahamas, travelers may be taking a closer look at the waivers they sign before those thrill-seeking activities.
Nashville attorney Rocky McElhaney said waivers are often more of a scare tactic.
"Just because a waiver says you can’t sue to recover for your injuries doesn’t mean you really can’t. In some cases they are enforceable, but not every case."
McElhaney said the ability to enforce a waiver often deals with the issue of inherent danger of the activity, or the danger reasonably associated with an activity.
"If you go to a pumpkin patch, you’ll sign a waiver. If you’re hurt by a goat knocking you down, you probably cannot sue. But if they run over you with a tractor, you probably can."
McElhaney said waivers also cannot violate public policy.
"For instance, all the jump places around Nashville have the parents sign a waiver for their child. But that's not enforceable because Tennessee's public policy is you can't waive claims for children that they can't waive claims themselves."
McElhaney encourages thrill-seekers to hold onto a copy of the waiver and document everything, should you get injured.
"You should still document the claim with the company … take pictures of the error, keep documentation of your treatment, and speak to a lawyer to see if your waiver is enforceable."
The ultimate goal, however, is to not get injured in the first place. Travel agents told News4 the key is choosing a reputable company for your excursions and to book in advance.
This gives travelers time to do their research, read reviews on trusted sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp!, the company’s YouTube site, and check with the BBB, if possible, to make sure the company is one with a good track record.