Recently, the Mississippi Supreme Court held that releases signed prior to an activity may not protect the entity that runs the activity as much as some would like. They held this in a case called Ghane v. Self-Defense Shooting. I sign a similar release every year for myself and my two sons when we go parasailing, but what does that really mean? According to the Mississippi Supreme Court it may protect the company from some liability, but not for liability arising out of violation of basic safety standards that leads to an injury to me or my sons.
In Ghane, a Navy SEAL was killed while participating in a training activity owned and managed by a civilian contractor. The contractor asserted as a defense that the SEAL signed a release. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that a generic release would not protect the contractor from liability for violation of basic safety standards or a failure of the training equipment to perform as advertised. The Court allowed the case against the contractor to go forward for that reason.
If you rely on a release of this type in your business, you need to be aware of this limitation. If you sign one of these releases and are injured, you need to be aware of the specific terms of the release and the basic safety standards that apply to the activity. I need to take my own advice do some research about parasailing.