A liability waiver is a legally binding pre-activity agreement where a participant waives a company’s liability with the risk associated with inherent dangers that pertain to a certain activity.
By signing a liability waiver, also known as a waiver of liability, release of liability agreement, and hold harmless agreement, the participant accepts the risk. In addition, the limitation of liability insulates the company from civil damages if the participant suffers losses or injuries.
Generally, most people understand that there are risks in a given activity and that at least some responsibility for mitigating those inherent risks rests on the participant. However, formalizing this in a document that protects the business owner or operator is always a good idea.
A liability waiver is one-way businesses can protect themselves from legal action. If you are a business wondering how to write a liability waiver, here are 10 things to include.
1. Business Information
A liability waiver is a standard document signed by anyone who uses that facility or service. Still, they will always include the business information for the product or service provider involved. This will usually include:
- The name of the business
- The business address
- The contact information of the business
2. Detailed Description of the Activity
A liability waiver is usually related to services or activities that a participant will do on the premises of or under the instruction of the service provider. Some examples of this might be:
- An indoor playground
- A hiking tour of a particular area or feature
- A skydiving plunge under a business’s certified instructor
The liability waiver should include details about what the participant will or may do, where they will do it, and any other relevant information.
3. Inherent Risks of the Activity
For a liability waiver to be a legally binding contract, the operator of a service needs to ensure that they are providing informed consent. This means that to release a company from liability, the participant first needs to know what risks they may face.
For example, for an indoor playground, the liability waiver might state that there is an inherent risk of not using equipment as intended or for children outside of the recommended age groups to use the facility.
If you don’t tell people that these risks exist, your release of liability might not stand up in any kind of court action.
4. Acknowledgement and Voluntary Assumption of Risk
While getting participants to read the inherent risks associated with using your facility or service is important, it’s just as important to have them formally acknowledge them.
A liability waiver should always include a section where the participant acknowledges that they are aware of the risks and that they voluntarily assume responsibility for their own safety in the face of those risks.
5. Choice of Law Provision Section
A liability waiver should always include a section that relates to a choice of law provision. Sometimes, while you offer a service or operate a facility in one area, state, city, or region, the people who use that facility might be from a different part of the country or even the world.
Different places have different laws, and if you don’t stipulate which laws will apply in the event of a dispute, they could argue that they prefer the laws in their own home jurisdiction.
6. Release Clause
A release clause in a pre-activity agreement legally releases an operator or service provider from any liability related to any of the risks and activities included in the contract.
7. Indemnification Clause
An indemnification clause in a release of liability agreement further protects the operator of a service or facility from any costs associated with injuries or damages that are covered by the agreement.
8. Forum Selection or Venue Clause
Like the choice of law provision, the forum selection clause of a liability waiver states where any matters related to the risks covered by the waiver will be heard.
So, for instance, you might nominate the courts in your own city in this section, which means if anyone does try to take legal action, they will have to do it in your local court system.
9. Successors and Assigns
The successors and assigns section of a legally binding contract sets out who will assume the role of the two parties if one or more of them cannot act on their own. This could be a family member or an employee, for instance.
Regarding assignments in contracts, this usually applies to situations where you subcontract something. So, for instance, if you run a tour company and sign up for a particular activity, the people purchasing the service from you might be assignees.
10. Participant(s) Signature
For any agreement to be a legally binding contract, it must be signed by both parties. The operator might sign the agreement in advance. Still, the participant must also sign the document once they know the terms and conditions.
Suppose you’re worried about liability waiver cost. In that case, it’s important to remember that it might cost you a lot more in legal fees and damages if you don’t adequately protect yourself. So make sure you have a watertight release of liability in place before you start operating!
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