Sign After Reading

A few years ago some friends invited me to join them for a game of paintball. I had never been to a paintball field before. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go. Don’t paintballs go 300 feet per second? Could I rent a paintball gun at the field? How much is ammunition? I sorted through all these questions and ultimately decided I would go.

When I got to the paintball field, I paid my entrance fee and was presented with a waiver to sign. I looked it over and was surprised to find terms like “sheer cliffs and other hazards” and “accidental death or dismemberment” and “agree to hold harmless.” I turned to my friend who had invited me along and asked if he had read this. He said that he hadn’t, but “nobody really reads that stuff.”

My friend may have been right. Most people probably give a cursory glance to a paintball form. People send so much time thinking over whether or not they are going to buy that car, hit that paintball field, do that business deal, or work at that job, that by the time they are asked to sign on the dotted line, they are exhausted. They just want to get it done. Often that means giving an agreement a cursory glance. This is a mistake.

Under Texas Law, when you sign a document you are presumed to have read and understood its contents. With a few exceptions that are beyond the scope of this entry, you will likely be stuck with what you signed (whether you read it or not). So read those documents before you sign them, and if you don’t understand any terms or conditions don’t be afraid to consult someone who does. You might as well read and understand the contents of an agreement; after all, the Texas law will presume you have.

-Collin J. Wynne