Lawyers say waivers can't block suits over child injuries

Greg Monroe #10 of the Detroit Pistons, climbed inside a bounce house with kids during the Detroit Pistons and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan Summer Tipoff Festival at the Lloyd H. Diehl Club on June 21, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Allen Einstein, NBAE via Getty Images)

Think signing a waiver means that a parent can't sue if their child gets hurt on a bounce house or other kind of play equipment? Think again.

Ken Lumb, a personal injury attorney at Chicago-based Corboy & Demetrio, said that waivers, also called exculpatory agreements, are "generally not enforceable."

In most states, including Illinois, Lumb said, an adult cannot waive the claims of a minor — or anyone, for that matter.

"It's no different under the law than if your neighbor went to the pool and signed a release, and then you went to the pool the next day, (hurt yourself) and found out the neighbor waived your right," Lumb said. "Your neighbor has no authority to do that.

"I don't think a lot of businesses know about it because they keep passing (waivers) out like candy."

According to Michael Krzak, a personal injury attorney at Chicago-based Clifford Law Offices, the policy in Illinois is "stark and absolute."

"The courts go on to say a minor involved in litigation is a ward of the court, and the court has a 'duty and broad discretion to protect the minor's interest,'" Krzak said. "And for those reasons, the courts will be reluctant to enforce a signed waiver, even by a parent or guardian, when a minor is involved in the litigation."

rlevy@tribune.com

Twitter @rachael_levy