New Ruling in Iowa on Waivers and Student Field Trips

The Iowa Supreme Court released an interesting decision today setting a new legal precedent for the state of Iowa. Normally, when someone signs a release form, whether or not they read it, they are bound to the terms of the waiver. For those of you who have kids, you are used to getting the request that you sign those field trip waiver forms that provide you will not hold the school or other organization responsible for any injuries that occur on the field trip. Most groups will require that they get a signed waiver or the child cannot participate. The Iowa Supreme Court today ruled in Galloway v. State of Iowa that such a release by a parent of a child are void as they violate public policy. The rationale by the court is that in other areas of the law there are certain limitations that a parent has over the rights of the child. Release of a child's rights to recover from another party for their damages is an important legal right of a child. The public policy purpose of protecting the child's legal rights is greater than the concerns of the child's access to these types of activities. The Court also indicated that if the legislature wants to change the law, they should be free to do so. However, for the time-being, it will be interesting to see the approach that Iowa schools, and any other organization that transports kids on trips, will handle the increased liability. (I'm sure my kids would not appreciate having their field trips canceled.)

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