When a personal injury case settles without trial, the other side insurance company will require a release. A release means that they are paying money to settle the claim and that you agree to that amount and that you won’t sue them again. We always get questions about releases so we address it here.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and The Hill law firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real. These are the cases we handle on a day to day basis.
Oftentimes we’re called about cases involving people that were injured at some sort of park or a private club or a gym where they have signed releases. This often creates complications in their case. Gyms, in particular, like to make all of their clientele sign releases so that they’re not held responsible if somebody is injured or suffer some sort of personal injury while working out of their gym.
In San Antonio, every gym case I’ve seen has a personal injury release. Now, the releases in Texas require certain things to be held enforceable. One of the quirks in Texas is what’s called the Express Negligence Rule. The release actually has to say that the party is releasing the gym or whatever group from acts of negligence by its employees or the corporation.
I had one case in which the Fortune 500 company actually failed to put those words in their release. A couple of words would have protected them from any litigation and they would have been able to injure my clients without recourse. However, we fought the release and a judge agreed with us that this Fortune 500 company had failed to follow the law.
Now, releases aren’t always rock-solid. We tell everybody that has a release, that thinks they have a claim to let us take a look at the release. People that are injured and suffer personal injuries should not be held to where they can’t get any recovery because of a release unless that release strictly complies with Texas Law. Another location you’re seeing in these releases a lot is these trampoline parks that have become very popular.
A lot of young kids go to trampoline parks. They have birthday parties at trampoline parks. As you can expect, a bunch of kids bouncing high into the air can lead to a lot of injuries. There’s been a lot of litigation and a lot of injuries that have arisen from incidents at trampoline parks. Now, without fail, the trampoline park has a release, but they can’t hold that release against a minor.
Most of the people injured and playing trampoline parks are minors. That’s one thing I always tell people that are worried that they can’t bring a claim or that their kid can’t bring a claim because of a release is that, first, minors can’t be released. Second, releases have to strictly comply with Texas Law to be enforceable.
Anybody that calls our firm with an injury that thinks that they’re barred from bringing a claim due to a release, we always ask them to come meet with us, talk to us, and let us review the release.
If the release in our opinion isn’t enforceable, we fight that release to the courts. We let the courts decide because unless a Fortune 500 company or some other big business checks all the boxes and follows the law, they shouldn’t be able to hide behind a release when they injure somebody else.
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