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This lawyer mom says she never signs child liability waivers — should you?

“I just won’t do it.”
/ Source: TODAY

A lawyer mom says she never signs “child liability waivers” — and neither should other parents.

If your kid has visited a trampoline park, joined a sports team or gone on a field trip, you’ve probably been offered or signed some version of a “child liability waiver,” either an electronic or written agreement that states a company or institution is absolved of responsibility if your child experiences “severe bodily injury” or “death.”

Shannon Schott, a criminal defense and personal injury attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, cautions parents to think twice before signing such an agreement.

“I do not waive my child’s rights when it comes to waiving liability in the event of a catastrophic injury or death when my child does certain things or engages in certain activities,” Schott said in a TikTok video with more than 1 million views. “I just won’t do it.”

These forms can be intimidating — Schott said many parents assume they have no choice but to consent to specific terms, or fear their child will miss out on fun if they don’t sign it.

Schott shared her workaround:

“First and foremost, if people are not paying attention, I just don’t do it,” she said. “If someone says, ‘You have to go online and sign a waiver, I say, ‘OK, thanks’ and I don’t do it. And no one checks and that’s not on me. That’s me being smart.”

She added, “I’m just not willing to waive my child’s rights in the event that they’re injured through no fault of their own or, of course, if they died.”

Schott explained that if she’s faced with a written waiver, for a school field trip for example, she crosses out language that waives her child’s rights and writes “Decline” before signing the form.

If Schott’s 7-year-old child isn’t allowed entry into said activity without her signature — which has happened — she said she treats him to another fun activity.

“Parent to parent ... do not waive liability for your kid to go jump in a s***** little trampoline park or go on some stupid little ride. Just don’t do it,” Schott said in her video, adding, “If something happens to your child and you go to an attorney and you ask for help, you do not want them to tell you that there’s nothing they can do.”

Schott tells in an interview that parents often encounter what’s called a waiver with an “exculpatory clause.”

According to the Cornell Law School website, “it’s part of a contract that prevents one party from holding the other party liable for damages related to the contract. Exculpatory clauses are used quite often in purchases such as the ones included with an amusement park or plane ticket.”

Schott says waiver language can be strategically written in different sized fonts or buried in other paragraphs, so it's easy to miss.

“Sometimes, all of the obligations to (the signer) are very big and bold but all the rights they’re giving up are in tiny font,” she explains.

A bigger red flag, she says, is being presented with a waiver itself.

“(That’s) because somewhere out there, a lawyer has advised this company that they need to ask their consumers and their patrons to waive liability so that the business doesn’t get sued,” she says. “Which means that it’s possible this business could get sued or they’ve been sued or something has happened.”

Whether these waivers are enforceable “varies from state to state,” attorney Steven F. Stapleton, tells He adds that Schott’s TikTok video “provides certain practical tips” for parents, but advises that it’s best to check the law in your state.

Schott says parents should not feel shame if they’ve signed waivers.

Instead, parents should read their jurisdiction or state laws before signing documents to understand what is enforceable.

“The problem is, if you’ve signed it, now we’re not talking about the damages,” says Schott. “We’re talking about whether or not we can even hold (a business accountable) — even when liability is clear.”