Law School Discussion

Please Help! Verbal "Ride at your own risk" and Non-Disclosure of safety issue

WHAT DO i DO? I was camping with my sister and her family and friends in Payson 4 months ago. The other people at the camp site offered a "Quad" for me to ride with a verbal "Ride at your own risk" clause. In my 45 years of life, every time I have come across this saying either in writing or verbal, it simply meant that if I fall off or hurt myself that I can not sue for damages.
As the day went, the other guy and owner of the quad I was on, we managed to get pretty far out on the service road, (Dirt) when the rear brakes locked up when I applied and released the foot lever. The brakes stayed on putting the quad into an uncontrollable slide. The quad and I went over sideways and I suffered some cracked ribs.
During the tow back to the camp site, I offered to pay for what I broke on the quad. The owner acknowledged that I wasn't riding recklessly and that this could have happened to anyone. When getting back to the campsite, The owner's wife heard what had happened and said outload, "Ya. I have had problems with the brakes locking up, also."
Had I known this prior to the ride begining, I wouold not have ridden that machine. I am an avid motorcycle rider and know the value of having properly working brakes.

Unfortunately, you will not get much advice here.  Most of the posters on this site are either law students or people thinking about becoming a law student. 

To give advice would be to practice law without a license, which could prevent them from ever becoming an actual lawyer.  I doubt many people want to that kind of risk for you. 

You should talk to a local lawyer about your rights. 

There are two basic issues involved:  Assumption of risk (on your part), and the effect of any liability waiver agreed to by you.

Assumption of risk generally means that you can't undertake an activity, get injured in an obvious way, and then sue about it.  By undertaking the activity you assumed the risk of that activity.  In this case, for instance, you may - may - have assumed the risk of injury from flipping your quad (as those darn things flip all the time).  It would be much harder, on the other hand, to argue that you assumed the risk of injury from bad brakes - unless, that is, you were told ahead of time that the brakes were bad and you decided to go ahead anyway.

The liability waiver is trickier.  The law of waivers varies quite a bit from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and you should of course consult a lawyer before thinking about any type of legal action - but many states have fairly specific rules about waivers.  For instance, for a waiver to be effective, the law might require that it be in writing and signed, or be dated on the day of the injury, or the law might declare the waiver ineffective if you didn't read it (even if you signed it), or perhaps the waiver has to specifically list the specific injury you suffered, or some other language requirement.

The courts in some states don't like liability waivers and look for ways to declare then invalid; in other states they might hold up better.

In short:  I would not conclude that you have no rights simply because you signed a waiver, but I would definitily recommend consulting a local lawyer before thinking about taking any type of legal action.

Good luck.