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Release Agreement Contracts and How One California Woman Defeated Hers in Winning Her Trip-and-Fall Lawsuit

Whenever you are considering signing any document that restricts your legal rights in any way, it is important to make absolutely sure that you understand what you are signing. You need to be sure that you know what rights you are giving up and what rights you are retaining, in order for you to make a truly informed decision. If you are unsure about an agreement, seek out experienced California legal counsel to provide you with the advice you need.

P.Z. was a person potentially impacted by such an agreement after she was hurt at a health club. P.Z. was walking through a health club’s gymnasium when she tripped and fell. The accident happened because the member’s foot became entangled with a metal “wireway” that the club used to run wires to the club’s treadmill machines. She sued the club in a premises liability action for the harm she suffered, which included a fracture and dislocation of her right elbow.

In many health clubs like this, members sign an agreement as part of the application for membership process. This club had such an agreement. In the document, the member agreed, as part of seeking membership, to waive the right to sue for various types of harm.

Even if you do sign an agreement and it does restrict your rights, as P.Z. did, that does not necessarily mean that you have no recourse, should you suffer an injury on the club’s property. For example, you may be able to succeed and recover compensation, even after signing a release, if you can prove that the club was what’s called in the law negligent “per se.” In California, a person or entity is negligent per se, and presumed to be negligent, if the defendant (1) violated a statute, ordinance or regulation, (2) the violation caused death or injury, (3) the death/injury was the result of something that the statute/ordinance/regulation was designed to guard against, and (4) the injured person was someone whom the statute/ordinance/regulation was designed to protect.

That was the basis of P.Z.’s argument in her case. (Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC638802.) She alleged that the club violated a building code statute that mandated only using wireways across aisles 30 inches wide or less. The opening in P.Z.’s case was more than 30 inches, so the club was in violation of the building code, was negligent per se, and owed her compensation for her damages. The jury was persuaded by this argument and awarded her a gross verdict of $636,000. Although the defense was able to persuade the jury that P.Z. was partly to blame for the accident, the net award that the member received was still in excess of $477,000.

If you’ve been hurt while on the property of another, you may have a case and be able to recover compensation. That may be true even if you signed a document releasing certain claims. For all your premises liability and other personal injury case needs, contact the skilled San Mateo personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have been helping injured individuals for many years to utilize the legal system to get the recoveries they need. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Injured Boy Obtains $47.5M Settlement After Catastrophic Tree Injury in San Mateo County Park, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, Published July 12, 2018

Southern California Jury Awards $827K to Injured Participant in 5K Run/Walk, San Mateo Injury Lawyers Blog, Published July 5, 2018

Premises Liability

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