As discussed here previously, reading something you are asked to sign, before you sign it, is vitally important in any context, but especially when it comes to personal injury waivers or releases of liability. Americans are routinely bombarded with advanced waivers they are expected to sign before they are allowed to do things like: play sports, work out, join a club, and the list goes on. What many people fail to realize is that by blindly signing these documents people often waive the right to recover for injuries that are not their fault; injuries they probably never even imagined. Last month an Illinois Appeals Court upheld the dismissal of a suit against a health club in Chicago where a gym member was injured in 2009 — injuries so severe the victim was rendered a quadriplegic. The reason the case was dismissed was simple: when the victim joined the gym he signed a document that exempted the club from liability for injuries, including injuries caused by the club’s own negligence. Even the appeals court acknowledged “…that upholding the health club’s exculpatory clause in this instance leads to a harsh result.” Obviously the victim never expected he would be injured while working out, especially to the tragic extent that he was. But, that is why it is so important to think about what you sign before you sign it. When you get in a car you put on your seat belt before you drive anywhere to prevent injury. It is not as if you got in the car saying, “today I am going to get in an accident.” You need to plan before you act, and take into account what could happen, not just what you hope will (or will not) happen. The language of releases and waivers of liability in personal injury cases vary widely and can result in some waivers or releases being unenforceable. If you are ever injured in a situation where it is not your fault, even if there is some type of waiver or release involved, you should contact a knowledgable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An injury lawyer can advise you of your rights and the consequences of any documents you may have signed.