If you’ve ever entered a road race or played in a recreational sports league, you’ve probably signed a “release.” This is a form in which you promise not to sue the league or event organizer for injuries you might suffer while participating.

While such releases are generally valid, you should know that they don’t always prevent victims from being compensated for their injuries.

For instance, Richard Angelo was a 53-year-old athlete from the Boston area who registered for a triathlon in Burlington, Vermont. He signed a release promising not to sue if he were hurt.

The day of the race, Lake Champlain – the site of the swimming component – was unusually rough. The organizers decided to hold the race as scheduled anyway. Less than an hour into the race, Angelo, a physically fit father of two, had to be fished from the rolling waves by a rescue boat. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly afterward.

Angelo’s widow sued the event organizer for negligently deciding to continue the race even though it knew about the dangerous water conditions.

The organizer argued that it couldn’t be sued because of the release. But a Massachusetts court ruled that while Angelo had promised not to sue over any harm during the event, the lawsuit in this case was brought by Angelo’s widow and his estate – and neither of them had signed a release or promised not to sue anyone.

If you’ve experienced an injury or loss, call us at 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101 for a free telephone consultation.