When conducting business in New York State, it is essential to be aware of the legal implications of liability waivers and the laws that apply to them. These documents are often employed to limit a company’s potential legal exposure to damages for unacceptable behavior or conditions, but understanding the nuances of how they work is essential. This article discusses some of the most frequently asked questions about liability waivers in New York and the considerations surrounding them.

What Is a Liability Waiver?

A liability waiver, or a "release of liability," as it is sometimes called, is a legal document in which someone agrees to not hold another person or company responsible if they incurred harm or damage. A waiver generally contains language that asks a person to waive the potential for any future legal action that may arise by signing the document. Although liability waivers are most commonly used as a means for businesses to protect themselves from potential lawsuits, they may also be used by individuals who are releasing another individual or entity from any responsibility.

What Does a Typical Liability Waiver Include?

For liability waivers to be enforceable, they need to contain a comprehensive statement identifying all parties involved, valid legal definitions of the liability, rights, and risks, and a clear understanding of both parties' obligations. Components of a legal liability waiver typically include:

• Defined Parties: The names of the individuals, businesses, or organizations that are party to the document should be listed, as they will be bound to its contents.

• Agreement of Release: The "release of liability" clause features the language that relieves the other party of potential legal responsibility.

• Scope of Coverage: The "scope of coverage" is the part of the waiver that outlines the situations in which the release of liability applies, such as the specific activity for which liability is waived or limited.

• Terms and Conditions: Any terms and conditions should be explicitly noted to ensure that all parties understand the full meaning of the waiver.

• Requirements for the Waiver to be Enforceable: This could include language approving that the waiving party: Is of legal age; acknowledges and agrees to the risks and liabilities associated with the activity; realizes the legal implications of signing the waiver; and reads and understands the waiver entirely.

• Signature: Liability waivers need to be signed by the individual and any witnesses so that the document can be enforced if challenged in court.

When Is a Liability Waiver Legally Valid?

For a liability waiver to be legally valid, six criteria must be met. Most notably, waivers must:

• Be Legally Binding: Liability waivers must be written in clear, unambiguous language, approved by both parties, and legally enforceable.

• Account for All Potential Claims: Liability waivers must account for any harm or injury involvement that may arise from the activity or transaction.

• Be Reasonable: Liability waivers are usually considered valid as long as they are reasonable and required under the circumstances. It is important to consult experienced legal counsel to understand the various state and local laws regulating liability waivers.

• Include a Statement of Rights: Since waivers are legally binding documents, the party signing it should be aware of the rights he or she is giving up.

• Not Include Indemnification: The indemnification clause, which speaks to who would be liable for legal fees should a waiver need to go through litigation, is not permitted in all states, including New York.

• Include Additional Legally Required Language: Depending on the state, certain additional legally required language or provisions may need to be included in the waiver for it to be valid.

Are There Any Alternatives to Liability Waivers?

Yes, there are alternatives to liability waivers. Depending on the state, there are other contracts that businesses can use to secure agreements with customers and other third parties to waive potential claims without the need for a liability waiver. These contracts include assumptions of risk, indemnity agreements, hold-harmless agreements, indemnification agreements, non-disclosure agreements, confidential agreements, and many other legally binding documents. Consulting with experienced business attorneys is a great way to ensure that legal contracts are properly drawn and enforced.

What Are the Limitations of a Liability Waiver?

Liability waivers are limited in several ways. For example, some jurisdictions prohibit certain provisions, such as indemnification clauses, while some do not apply liability waivers to certain types of activities. Additionally, the release of liability does not typically extend to "intentional torts," or intentional acts of harm caused by one party to another, such as assault, battery, defamation, or libel.

Liability waivers in New York can serve as a significant risk-management tool for businesses that wish to limit their potential exposure to lawsuits. However, waivers must be comprehensive and legally valid for them to be enforceable in court. It is important to understand the nuances of liability law and consult experienced legal counsel to develop legally binding liability waivers that can protect a business against potential claims.


Liability Waiver,

New York,

Legal Counsel