FAQ - Release of Liability

There have been a series of lawsuits where courts have determined that businesses may be liable for accidental injuries even when a recreationist signed a waiver, was engaged in inherently risky activity and the accident was not the result of reckless disregard or willful conduct by the business. Upon appeal, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld these findings. The result is any accident can now lead to open-ended liability for the business, and liability waivers provide no protection.

Every business requires liability insurance to operate. In the case of recreation and fitness businesses, they provide services that can lead to their customer’s personal injury. But, not all of those injuries are the fault of the business. To create a reasonable sharing of legal responsibility, a well-established framework permits businesses to have customers sign liability waivers that specify when businesses and customers, respectively, are legally responsible for injuries. Nullifying these waivers means businesses can be responsible for any injury, and the result is they either cannot get insurance coverage, or their premiums increase dramatically. The result is higher costs and less access to Oregonians seeking recreation and fitness options.

The proposed reform will enact in Oregon law the well-established legal framework that exists in every other western state. That is, legal waivers can be signed that hold individuals engaged in inherently risky activities responsible for their actions, while businesses will remain accountable for behavior that is reckless or willful. This is the balanced standard that existed in Oregon before the court rulings, and it will ensure consumers have affordable access to recreation and fitness options.

Oregonians will be treated just like consumers in every other western state and will continue to be protected against the reckless disregard or willful conduct of recreation and fitness providers. Without waiver reform, however, consumers will face higher costs and fewer recreation and fitness options.