Owning a business has many rewards. With those rewards come risks. One of the more common risks is the chance that a customer could be injured somehow at your place of business. As a precaution, most business carry liability insurance.
Liability insurance protects you in the event that someone claims that your business caused them harm. Your liability insurance pays for damages to third parties for personal injuries or property damage, for which your business is legally liable, up to the policy limits. A liability insurance policy should also cover any legal fees incurred to defend a claim.
Another way to protect your business has been the use of waivers signed by customers releasing a business from liability for an injury incurred in the normal conduct of its business activity. However, as recently decided by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Tayar v. Camelback Ski Corporation, Inc., et al., a waiver may not protect an employer from a claim by a third party alleging injury due to the reckless conduct of an employee.
In the Camelback case, the plaintiff sought damages incurred due to an injury she sustained at the Camelback snow-tubing run when an employee sent another snow-tuber down the slopes before she had cleared exit area at the end of the run. Prior to snow-tubing, the plaintiff had filed a waiver releasing Camelback from liability for any injury she might sustain while snow-tubing.
The lower court found that the waiver Tayar signed was sufficient to protect Camelback from liability. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court disagreed, finding it violates public policy to release potential tortfeasors from liability for future reckless conduct.
“[W]ere we to sanction releases for reckless conduct, parties would escape liability for consciously disregarding substantial risks of harm to others; indeed, liability would be waivable for all conduct except where the actor specifically intended harm to occur.”
The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for further action consistent with its decision.
The practical application of this rule is not to rely on waivers to release your business from liability which may result from your employees’ reckless conduct.
If you need assistance assessing the risks involved in the operation of your business and in determining the need for liability insurance, or another topic concerning your business, the attorneys at the Scolieri Law Group, P.C. can help. Located in western Pennsylvania, our attorneys are experienced in Pennsylvania business law and can help you navigate regulations affecting your business. Contact us today at (412)765-0546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.