A business waiver expresses abandonment of a legal claim. The waiver is a document utilized to enforce that abandonment. With Insurance, it's typically a supplementary clause excluding particular losses.

What Is a Liability Waiver or a Release Form

Liability release forms are contracts between your business and a client. The client acknowledges and accepts the activity's risks when they sign. They waive their right to file a claim for injuries sustained from the activity.

Liability releases limit negligence suits filed by clients. Even if not required by your insurer, apply these forms. They'll shield your business against lawsuits.

You may know these liability waiver myths:

  • Patrons who've signed a waiver can't sue.
    • Liability waivers can't stop injured parties from suing, but move some liability to the injured parties. A waiver may release you from ordinary negligence claims, but patrons can sue for gross negligence and intentional torts.
  • Minors can't release liability.
    • Only parents and guardians may release liability on minors' behalf.
  • Filing a claim with my liability insurer about accidents is not necessary. The customer signed a release, so I don't have to worry about a suit. I'll forward a copy to the customer's lawyer.
    • Always report any claim to your liability insurer even if you've obtained a waiver of liability. Send the waiver's copy with your report. Don't handle the claim yourself.
  • Insurance isn't required if I implement release forms.
    • Liability release forms don't replace commercial liability insurance. They'll thwart some lawsuits but won't stop all. A customer who has signed a waiver may sue, and lawsuits can arise from activities outside the waiver's scope. Use release forms in conjunction with general liability insurance.

A release form is useless if not it is not enforced. State laws regarding releases vary. Some are strict, only enforcing releases which meet specific requirements, while others are relaxed. Some don't enforce them. If you're unsure of your state's laws, ask your attorney. Due to differing laws, releases most likely to be enforced follow basic guidelines. Liability releases with poor wording are rarely enforced. Releases compliant with state laws are valid. The activity's location will determine which state's laws apply.

Release Forms

Ask your liability insurer for a copy of a release form if needed. Your insurance agent, business associates, and professional organizations could also share a form with you. Once a form is acquired, have your attorney review it. They'll tell you if the release is appropriate or will draft a suitable one. Attorneys charge a fee for such drafts, which cost less than a lawsuit, and should revisit the form about twice a year. Laws change, and the form may need updates.

Business owners should avoid these liability release errors:

  • Downloading generic forms.
    • Online forms may not work for your business or fulfill your state's requirements.
  • Drafting your own release.
    • An attorney should draft the appropriate document. This is worth the fee.
  • Implementing confusing language.
    • A liability waiver must be clear to customers.
  • Burying the release in fine print.
    • A release must not be hidden within tiny print or buried in another document. Release language should be very distinct and in a separate document.
  • Using forms with blank spaces.
    • A form should not be missing information. All lines must be filled except those that patrons complete. Patrons must be able to comprehend the release.
  • Using forms patrons can't understand.
    • Impaired patrons may require releases in other formats to understand the release.

Understandable liability releases can ward off bodily injury claims. Follow good business practices to ensure your release's enforceability.

Employees must handle releases properly. They must ensure patrons understand the release's terms, aren't rushed and have no questions. Your employees should verify that all lines are filled. Incomplete release forms must be rejected, even if a sale's lost.

How Mobile Waivers Can Reduce Risk and Liability at Your Business

Completing a waiver is essential to activities with risk; business owners are attempting to minimize their liability in case of accidents. Some businesses use waivers found online. Such forms have generic language about the risks involved, stating that the business "can't be held liable."

Unfortunately, many businesses believe such forms hold up in court, but most won't.

Generic waivers are worthless if:

  • The language is confusing or too broad.
  • The disclosures aren't legible.
  • Multiple activities and registrations were combined into one document.
  • Multiple participant signatures were allowed on a single document.

This explains the switch from paper to mobile waivers. It's impossible to negate risk completely, but a mobile waiver establishes new minimum safety standards while improving daily operations. The ability to reduce a high amount of risk in minutes is essential.

If you need help with liability releases, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.