Vermont proposes "assumption of risk" legislation
"Express assumption of risk and release from liability"would release validity for ordinary negligence claims as do states that enforce releases in recreational settings.
From Vermont ATV Sportsman's Association, Inc. (VASA)
We're lining up support once again for release form legislation. This year it will likely be sponsored by Peg Flory who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
The key is that "inherent risks" are not what we are looking at for our release law. The law of sporting activities already covers "inherent risks". We need release validity for ordinary negligence claims consistent with the law of other states that enforce releases in recreational settings. Remember, the activities we are talking about are voluntary...anyone who is not interested in taking full responsibility for injury (absent of course "gross negligence" which can never be released under any state's law) does not have to participate. The parties providing the services are looking for protection from "ordinary negligence."
--Gray Stevens, Vermont Outdoor Guide Association
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to permit adults to assume for themselves and their minor children the risks inherent in recreational activities by releasing simple negligence claims arising out of the adult’s or minor child’s participation in the activity.
AN ACT RELATING TO EXPRESS ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND RELEASE FROM LIABILITY
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS
The general assembly finds:
(1) Persons in this state, including minor children, should have the maximum opportunity to participate in recreational, sporting, educational, and other activities where certain risks, including risk of personal injury or death, may exist.
(2) Public, private, and nonprofit entities providing recreational, sporting, educational, and other activities with risks to adults and minor children in Vermont need a measure of protection against lawsuits, without which they may be unwilling or unable to provide the activities due to overwhelming financial exposure.
(3) Parents have a fundamental right and responsibility to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their minor children. The law has long presumed that a parent acts in the best interest of his or her minor children.
(4) Parents make conscious choices every day on behalf of their minor children concerning the risks and benefits of participation in activities. These are proper parental choices on behalf of the minor children that should not be ignored. So long as the decision is voluntary and informed, the decision should be given the same dignity as decisions regarding public education, medical treatment, and religious education.
(5) It is the public policy of the state of Vermont to encourage the availability of recreational, sporting, educational, and other activities with risks in this state by affording providers, including landowners and occupiers, instructors, and guides, with protection under the law where a participant in the activity has agreed to expressly assume its risks and release potential defendants from liability.
(6) It is the public policy of the state of Vermont to encourage the affordability and availability of youth activities in this state by permitting a parent of a minor child to release a negligence claim of the minor child arising out of the child’s participation in recreational, sporting, educational, or other activities with risks.
Sec. 2. 12 V.S.A. § 1162 is added to read:
§ 1162. VALIDITY OF RELEASE AGREEMENTS FOR
(a) A participant in a recreational activity may expressly release another person from negligence claims arising out of participation in the activity.
(b) A parent of a minor child who participates in a recreational activity may expressly release another person from negligence claims arising out of the minor child’s participation in the activity.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit a parent acting on behalf of his or her minor child to waive a claim for the minor child based on a willful or wanton act or omission, or a grossly negligent act or omission.
(d) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Minor child” means a person under 18 years of age.
(2) “Parent” means a parent of a minor child or a person who has legal guardianship of the child.
For more information:
Vermont ATV Sportsman's Association, Inc. (VASA)
Vermont Outdoor Guide Association (VOGA)
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Updated January 5, 2009