June 24th, 2024

Know Before You Sign: New Liability Rules for Recreational Facilities

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Author: Jonathan F. Lieberman

Starting October 1st, a new Maryland law will take effect and significantly impact businesses such as gyms, horseback riding facilities, and skating rinks. Most importantly, this new law provides new legal protections for consumers.

Any consumer who has been to one of these facilities likely recalls having to sign a liability waiver for themselves or their minor children before engaging in any inherently dangerous or risky activity where they could be injured. Under the previous law in Maryland, these liability waivers in many cases protected these businesses from lawsuits against them for any negligence or wrongdoing on their behalf. Under the new law, any agreement that attempts to limit, release, indemnify, or hold a facility harmless for injuries caused by their negligence or wrongful acts is against the law and unenforceable.  Now, if you or your minor children are injured while engaging in these activities, you will have the right to sue the facility for any injuries sustained as result of their negligence or wrongdoing.

The types of businesses impacted by the law include:

  • Gyms
  • Swimming pools
  • Amusement attractions
  • Athletic facilities

The law excludes lodging establishments (unless the attraction covered by the waiver is open to the public), state or local government units that lease land to recreational facilities, and health club services for adults.

The purpose of the new law is to hold these facilities accountable for maintaining safe environments and protections for their customers.   It is important for the public to be aware of this change in the law. If you or your minor children are injured at one of these facilities, you should consult with an experienced attorney to protect and enforce your legal rights.