A liability waiver, also known as a release of liability, is a legally binding contract between two parties that releases a company from liability related to risks in a given activity.
A lawyer is one of the best resources available if you are researching how to write a liability waiver. A lawyer for a liability waiver can draft a thorough legal document that covers all of the inherent risks of your activity with appropriate terms and conditions.
Here is an article that defines liability waiver.
What Do Liability Waivers Do?
The purpose of a liability waiver is to protect a company from being held accountable for damages resulting from inherent risks associated with an activity.
For example, suppose you own a yoga studio. In that case, you can require participants to sign a liability waiver that releases your company from liability in the event of physical injury.
Liability waivers are often issued as a pre-activity agreement, meaning it is required for a participant to sign before they are permitted to participate in a given activity.
A good liability waiver can prevent your company from being held accountable for damages people sustain practicing an activity. Many injuries and incidents are outside the company’s control but can still lead to lawsuits.
The liability waiver agreement grants the company protection from legal charges in the event of certain injuries or damages, including death, in some circumstances.
By signing a liability waiver, a participant agrees to release a company from legal liability based on certain terms and conditions.
You may only sometimes agree with these aspects of a liability waiver. In that case, you can negotiate the agreement with the operator. You can also consult a lawyer for a liability waiver review before signing a contract.
Here is an article with ContractsCounsel’s guide to liability waivers.
How Much Does a Liability Waiver Cost?
A liability waiver cost depends on the type of document. Some waivers are short and straightforward, while others may need more comprehensive terms and conditions to cover a wider scope of inherent risks.
According to the ContractsCounsel marketplace, the average cost of a project with a liability waiver is $458.43. However, prices for attorneys can vary based on experience and the details of a project.
Attorney rates can vary from $200 to $500 an hour. You can get a free bid for your liability waiver lawyer online by submitting a project to ContractsCounsel.
Here is an article with more information about the typical cost of a liability waiver.
Do Liability Waivers Hold Up in Court?
In the United States, liability waiver enforceability depends on several factors. Even a well-drafted liability waiver does not exempt operators from complete liability.
For example, in cases of gross negligence, an operator can still be held legally accountable for sustained damages. In addition, according to state law, acts of deliberate harm against a person can also be criminally charged and penalized.
Some liability waivers are not enforced in state courts, so seeking legal counsel after injury is always a good idea. Even if you signed an agreement beforehand, you might still be entitled to financial compensation.
You still have the right to be protected from harm while participating in an activity. However, this means that a liability waiver is not an exemption of responsibility for the operator.
Imagine you are going bungee jumping. Even though you sign a release of liability, you are still entitled to proper care and consultation. The instructors should ensure you are properly educated for your jump, and all equipment should be properly maintained to promote a safe participant environment.
Any negligence can void a liability waiver.
Suppose you need clarification on your rights after signing a release of liability agreement. In that case, you should consult with a lawyer.
Five key sections of a liability waiver you should know are:
- Inherent Risks — These are the risks associated with a particular activity. Examples include driving a car, performing an extreme sport like skydiving or bungee jumping, scuba diving, and practicing activities like yoga or massage therapy.
- Assumption of Risk — An assumption of risk is the participant’s acknowledgment of the inherent risks in an activity, which lowers the company’s liability in the event of an injury.
- Release of Liability Clause — The release of liability section of a liability waiver in which the participant releases the operator of the activity from legal liability in the event of injury, financial loss, psychological harm, or other damages. Terms and conditions vary by contract.
- Insurance — This portion of the document states that the company's liability insurance does not cover participants’ damages.
- Indemnification — An indemnification clause reinforces the assumption of risk in a liability waiver. It is also a common practice to hold the participant accountable for any legal costs associated with potential lawsuits stemming from their participation in a given activity.
Another important element in a liability waiver is the choice of law.Liability laws vary significantly by state, so you should be aware of the rules in the state you are participating in. For example, the liability waiver you sign before riding will likely fall under Wyoming if you live in California but go to a horse ranch in Wyoming.
This means that any future court cases would be done under the governing law of Wyoming state, not California, where you reside.
Here is an article that describes the general best practices of a liability waiver.
Is a Liability Waiver Legally Binding?
Yes, a liability waiver is legally binding, but there are limitations. For example, liability waivers prevent participants from suing a company under certain circumstances. However, they are not legally barred from ever pursuing legal action.
They may sue a company after signing a liability waiver because of abnormal risks, negligence, or unforeseen circumstances.
If you are unsure whether a liability waiver protects you adequately, consider consulting with an attorney. You can talk with a lawyer for a liability waiver review whether you are an operator or participant in an activity.
For operators, the most important thing to consider is whether this liability waiver protects your best interests without compromising the safety of your participants. A liability waiver unfavorably biased toward your organization will likely be unenforceable in court. Furthermore, these types of waivers can damage customer trust and harm your reputation.
Consulting with a lawyer is the best way to ensure your liability waiver follows state laws and protects you.
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