What is a Liability Waiver?
A liability waiver is a type of form that releases a party from being liable for harm or damage that might occur while under contract. In essence, the person signing the waiver “waives” or gives up their right to hold the other party liable for their injuries or losses. This is usually done in connection with activities that are “inherently” dangerous.
Liability waivers are also called by other names, such as release forms, liability release forms, or waiver and release forms. Most liability waivers state that the person signing the form will not file a lawsuit or subject them to litigation in the event of an injury.
When is a Liability Waiver Used?
Liability waivers are usually used before a person engages in an activity where there is a known and accepted risk of injury or economic loss. Some of these are:
- High-risk recreation activities like parachuting, skydiving, or other ultrahazardous activities
- Full-contact sports like martial arts, wrestling, football
- When entering a dangerous zone or a zone where injuries are likely to occur
- When handling hazardous or toxic materials
For instance, a skydiving company may provide its customers with the services and equipment necessary for skydiving, such as the parachutes, the plane ride up, and the skydiving instructors. However, before participating, the company would probably have the customers sign a liability waiver stating that they understand the risks involved in skydiving, and that they won’t use the company in the event of an injury.
Are Liability Waivers Legally Enforceable?
Liability waivers usually form a contract in themselves, or they may be included as part of a larger contract. Thus, liability waivers are generally enforceable under contract laws. They must be executed as if they were a legally valid contract (i.e., signed, dated, etc.)
On the other hand, liability waivers can’t ask the parties engage in conduct that is illegal, unreasonable, or unfair. Liability waivers are almost always written documents; however, a court might find an oral agreement to be valid, so long as it meets the basic requirements for a valid contract.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Liability Waiver?
If you need assistance with drafting, reviewing or negotiating a liability waiver, you may wish to contact an experienced attorney in your area. Your lawyer can help review the laws in your area, to ensure that your rights are accurately represented in the agreement. Also, in the event that you need to file a lawsuit for damages related to a liability waiver, your attorney can represent you in court as well.
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Last Modified: 12-31-2012 12:15 PM PST
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