Does Signing a Waiver Really Matter?

My son, Caden, plays hockey for the Flamborough Sabres. When it comes time for waivers to be signed, either to play hockey or for team events, there’s a running joke between me and some of the parents. I often hear “If something happens after I sign this, you’ll be able to get around it, right?” Of course, this is all said in good fun, but what is actually the law when it comes to waivers?

There is a recent case in Ontario that talks about waivers called Levita v. Crew et al. Mr. Levita was playing hockey in a league operated by True North Hockey Canada. During a game, he was hit from behind into the boards. He was badly injured and sued. The Judge hearing the case ruled that the waiver signed completely protected True North Hockey Canada from any liability. Mr. Levita’s argument was that the waiver should not apply on the basis that he had not read the waiver before he signed and because the waiver was never explained to him. The Judge stated that if Mr. Levita was unclear about the waiver’s meaning or felt he did not have sufficient time to read the waiver, it was open to him to take the necessary time and steps to make sure he did read the waiver and understand its meaning before signing.

The law is clear: If you voluntarily sign a waiver and participate in the event, you will not be able to argue afterwards that the waiver should not apply if you get hurt.

However, all is not lost. If the waiver is unclear or did not include the type of risk that caused your injury, or you were hurt because of the negligence of the organizer of the activity, the waiver should not bar recovery. If you need more information on this matter, please call us. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.