Florida House to reinstate child liability waivers to protect businesses

2850654198_3c8a587076The Florida House is considering a bill to allow waivers of liability signed by parents in favor of businesses involved in high risk activities for children such as theme parks, go-cart tracks and other businesses. The bill has already been passed by the Senate and will go to the House for vote.

In Kirton v. Fields, 997 So.2d 349 (Fla. 2008), the Florida Supreme Court, held that a pre-injury release executed by a parent on behalf of a minor child is unenforceable against the minor or the minor’s estate in a tort action arising from injuries resulting from participation in a commercial activity. In the Kirton case, a 14-year-old boy was killed while riding an all-terrain vehicle at a commercial track. The Florida Supreme Court allowed the boy’s family to sue the track even though his father had signed a liability waiver.

The Republican dominated Florida House and Senate appears to be more concerned with the profitability of its business constituents and corporate donors then the welfare of children. If pre-injury releases are permitted for commercial establishments, the incentive to take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of minor children would be removed. Moreover, as a provider of the activity, a commercial business can take precautions to ensure the child’s safety and insure itself when a minor child is injured while participating in the activity. On the other hand, a minor child cannot insure himself or herself against the risks involved in participating in that activity.

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