• Key point. Minors do not have the capacity to sign contracts, and therefore cannot sign binding "releases" or "assumptions of risk" that exempt churches or other organizations from legal liability.
A Florida court ruled that a 13—year—old girl could sue a ranch for injuries she sustained when she fell off a horse despite the fact that she signed a legal document releasing the ranch from all liability for any accident or injury. A sign at the ranch stated: "Caution: Horseback riding can be dangerous. Ride at your own risk." In addition, the girl was asked to sign a release form that stated:
In consideration of permission granted to me to ride [horses at the ranch] I hereby, for myself, my heirs, administrators, and assigns, release, remise, and discharge the [ranch] and its agents and employees, of and from all claims, demands, actions and injuries, sustained to my person or property as a result of any act, omission, or negligence [of the ranch] while riding [horses] on the premises of [the ranch].
I am aware of the risks and dangers involved in horseback riding and that unanticipated and unexpected dangers may arise, and I assume all risks of injury to my person and property that may be sustained as a result.
I represent and certify that I am at least 18 years of age, or if I am under the age of 18 years old, I represent and certify that I have the permission of my parents or guardian to rent and ride [horses at the ranch] and that they have full knowledge thereof ….