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What are Adhesion Contracts?

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An adhesion contract is a term or condition imposed upon you by someone with greater bargaining power. The contract is considered “adhesive” because you’re stuck with it. You have no choice but to accept the contract terms. In some circumstances, these contracts are unenforceable in California.

Adhesion contract enforceability

Have you ever parked your car in a parking garage and noticed a warning on the back of the stub that says, “not responsible for loss or damage”? This is an example of an unenforceable adhesion contract. If an employee of the parking garage breaks into customers’ cars and steals them, or if a security guard in the garage runs into a parked car with a motorized security cart, the parking garage can and should be held liable for damages.

Whether a contract clause can prevent you from recovering damages for an injury is a case-by-case judgment call. For example, California courts have held that a release of liability printed in a contract for a ski lesson was not an adhesion contract because the student, who was injured during the lesson, had signed the contract, and the liability release in the contract was printed in bold type.

Conversely, a contract clause of that was part of a hospital admission form was unenforceable as an adhesion clause because the court said that the admission room of a hospital was not a “bargaining table,” and the patient could not have debated the terms of his admission. The disparity in the respective bargaining positions of the patient and the hospital was a key factor in the court’s decision.

When a contract clause prevents you from suing someone for an injury, an unenforceable adhesion clause may be to blame. The experienced personal injury attorneys at TorkLaw can explain how California’s adhesion clause law applies to your case.

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