Attorney Mom Reveals The One Piece Of Paper She Refuses To Sign For Her Kids — And How She Avoids It

"I'm just not willing to waive my child's rights in the event that they are injured through no fault of their own."

attorney signing document Pavel Danilyuk / Canva Pro

If you're a parent, you've likely signed a gazillion permission slips for every field trip and activity your kids participate in. 

However, lawyer and mom Shannon Schott says there's an important part of these agreements that parents might want to rethink before their child's next Little League season or trip to the museum.

The attorney refuses to sign liability waivers for her kids under any circumstances.

Shannon Schott is a criminal defense and personal injury attorney in Jacksonville, Florida. She recently discussed on TikTok how she handles permission slips and other agreements pertaining to her kids a bit differently than most parents probably do.


"I do not waive my child's rights when it comes to waiving liability in the event of a catastrophic injury or death," she said in her video. And she urges her friends and clients to do the same. 


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Schott says that signing liability waivers means you often have no recourse if your child is injured or killed. 

"If something happens to your child and you go to an attorney and you ask for help, you do not want them to tell you that there's nothing they can do," she said. 

Obviously, accidents happen — and sometimes they are because of negligence on the part of the venue, school, etc. Signing liability waivers means that despite the venue's equipment being faulty, for example, you will likely have difficulty obtaining any legal restitution for your child's injury.

As an example, one year at my elementary school's annual 5th-grade trip to the local water park, a girl with a deathly peanut allergy was killed after eating french fries that were cooked in peanut oil, despite she and her parents having clarified with the staff that peanut oil was not used on the premises.


That's as clear a case of negligence as you can get, right? But her parents had signed a liability waiver, which meant inordinate amounts of haggling and fighting for compensation for the mountains of medical and funeral bills they were forced to pay because of the water park's negligence — all while grieving the loss of their 10-year-old child.

Schott said she's simply unwilling to be put in this position and further explained that "waivers of liability require mutual acceptance and mutual understanding" that refusing to sign them does not establish.

"Parent to parent, do not give up that right," she urged. "Do not waive liability for your kid to go jump in a little trampoline park or go on some stupid little ride." So what should you do instead? 


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Schott says parents often assume they must sign liability waivers, but that is rarely true, and declining them is simple.

"So someone asked me, well, how do you not sign it?" Schott said in her video. "A lot of people incorrectly assume that they have to consent to certain terms in certain circumstances."

But she said there are a few ways around liability waivers — starting with the fact that the people handling the paperwork often aren't even paying attention to whether it's fully signed, especially if it's handled online.


"If people are not paying attention, I just don't do it," Schott said. "If someone says you have to go online and sign a waiver, I say, 'OK, thanks,' and I don't do it, and no one checks, and that's not on me. That's me being smart and not waiving my child's rights."

She clarified that she is not gunning for lawsuits — that's not the point of this bit of subterfuge. "I'm just not willing to waive my child's rights in the event that they are injured through no fault of their own."

@onwardinjurylaw If you've ever signed a liability waiver for your child and hoped for the best. Listen to this. 🎥 #liability #waiver #illinois #injury #parents ♬ original sound- Onward Injury Law

Instead, she simply skips the liability parts of any online forms and crosses them out on physical forms. "If I am forced with a form that is a piece of paper, I sign the piece of paper, and then on the section that waves my child's rights, I draw a line, and I write 'decline.'"


"I also do this when the school presents me with waivers of liability for field trips," she continued. "I write a line across it to the parts that I'm not willing to agree to, I write 'decline' and then I sign it."

She also pointed out that parents can revoke waivers they have already signed and resubmit them — in case you're in the same boat as one commenter who'd just signed waivers for his child's summer camp the day before seeing Schott's video.

And if all else fails and a child's participation is truly contingent upon a liability waiver, Schott says so be it. "If we can only do something if we agree to waive all of our child's rights, we just won't do it." When you put it that way, it kind of makes the default alternative seem downright crazy. 


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.