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Liability Waivers OceanGate Expeditions And More


The Titan submersible had been missing for nearly two hours with no word from the crew. The world breathlessly waited for news, but when it came, it wasn’t good. According to the U.S. Navy, evidence suggested an underwater implosion may have occurred. Nonetheless, the search mission continued with hopes for good news.  It was not to come. The underwater craft with five passengers had descended on a mission to view the Titanic shipwreck, and would not ever resurface.

Liability Waivers had Been Signed 

Naturally, all who’d boarded the submersible had signed liability waivers acknowledging the prospective risks associated with the trip and relinquishing the right to sue for any losses that might occur.  They each took the trip and accepted the prospect of physical injury, emotional trauma, disability, and even death. They recognized the risks and took the journey. So are grieving families stuck with no ability to seek financial remuneration?

Understanding Waivers

It’s common practice for liability waivers to be required prior to engaging in a number of activities, including skydiving, rock climbing, and more.  But waivers may be unenforceable if poorly written or if the party issuing the waiver can be deemed grossly negligent. Generally speaking, if children experience harm, waivers are unenforceable because many courts have determined that a child’s right to sue cannot be surrendered by parents, especially when negligence results in harm.

When cases involving liability waivers make it into a courtroom, judges are required to look at the details of the particular document and weigh it against several factors, including whether the people signing the waivers truly understood what they were signing, and the level of danger associated with the activity. Moreover, the judge will consider whether information that might have influenced the willingness to participate in the activity was buried within the paperwork. Finally, questions related to possible negligence in the development, construction, or maintenance of machinery or tools are factored in.  Certainly, if carelessness on the part of the company can be demonstrated, it would invalidate any liability waivers. 

Other factors considered include:

  1. If the waiver was clearly called out;
  2. If the waiver was specific and clear;
  3. If the waiver was a generic document or was customized to the situation;
  4. Whether the waiver meets state laws.

Can You Seek Damages? 

Have you signed a liability waiver, only to later suffer serious injury? Does your signature on that document preclude you from seeking damages to address the costs associated with your physical and emotional recovery? Every case is different, to be sure. To determine your legal rights going forward, schedule a confidential consultation with the knowledgeable Baltimore personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes today.



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