Kentucky Supreme Court Says Pre-Injury Liability Waivers Between For-Profit Entities and Parents Signing on Behalf of Minor Children are Unenforceable

On June 13, 2019, in the case of Kathy Miller v. House of Boom Kentucky, LLC (2018-SC-000625-CL), the Kentucky Supreme Court issued an opinion in which it decided that pre-injury liability waivers between a for-profit entity and a parent, signing on behalf of their minor child, are unenforceable. The Court reasoned that under Kentucky law, a parent has no inherent right to contract on behalf of their child or to compromise or settle a minor’s claim without court approval.

The Court held that there is no relevant public policy in Kentucky to justify departing from the common law rule that parents have no inherent right to enter into a contract on behalf of their child. The Court also held that the public policy reasons for protecting a child’s civil claim pre-injury are no less prevalent than they are post-injury. Additionally, the Court held that the Commonwealth’s public policy of encouraging “affordable recreational activities” does not apply to immunize a commercial entity.

The Court expressed their concern that enforcing such agreements would remove companies’ incentives to act with reasonable care to protect the safety of minors. In sum, parents do not have the authority to sign pre-injury liability waivers on behalf of their children that shield for-profit companies from potential liability.

It remains important for insurers to retain experienced defense attorneys to navigate this area of law. If you are an insurance provider, and would like to know more about the enforceability of pre-injury liability waivers, contact our office at 859.422.6000.

This article was authored by WHT attorney Max Smith. To learn more about Max and his practice, visit his bio.

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