Although the title of this blog post might seem ridiculous at first blush, I’m personally surprised that businesses who invite customers upon their land for products or services have not tried to sneak “waivers of liability” into receipts…yet. And, as you can see from my photo above, I spend a lot more time at McDonald’s than I do at a local gym. Keep reading…you’ll see why that’s important below in our 3-part series on Exculpatory Clauses under Indiana law.
First, let’s examine Indiana law with regard to whether individuals can “waive” or “forfeit” the right to sue a landowner for accidents that occur on that property that injure others. These waivers are called “exculpatory clauses” under Indiana law and under certain circumstances, Indiana courts have ruled “yes,” exculpatory clauses are valid in contracts.
The most common “waiver to sue” (exculpatory clause) occurs when a person signs a lease to rent a property to live or to run a business. Often, the lease will contain waivers to sue the landlord in the event of an injury that occurs on the property. Other times, a waiver is inserted into other contracts where a person uses the land of another – like a member of a health club, gym, country club or sports activity participant. In both circumstances, Indiana courts have held that exculpatory clauses are not void as against public policy.