A release and waiver agreement is an enforceable promise not to pursue legal action in exchange for compensation. The releasee gives money or some other form of compensation to the releasor, who then agrees not to press charges, sue, or take any other legal action against the releasee.

What Is a Release and Waiver Agreement?

A release and waiver agreement is also known as a:

  • Release of liability
  • Release agreement
  • Release form
  • Waiver of liability
  • Liability release
  • Liability waiver

Liability releases are sometimes used to waive damage claims for incidents that have already occurred, such as automobile accidents. They can also be used to waive future claims for damages or injuries. For example, you might be required to sign a liability waiver form when joining a gym or before participating in a high-risk activity.

As a business owner, if there's some type of risk involved in your services, it's a good practice to have participants sign a release of liability form. Doing so releases you from liability if someone is injured during one of your on-site activities.

Not only can release and waiver agreements benefit business owners, but they are also a good option for:

  • Event hosts
  • Event sponsors
  • Event organizers

For instance, marathon organizers can have runners sign liability forms before the race to ensure they aren't held liable for any injuries.

Components of a Release and Waiver Agreement

Every release and waiver agreement has a releasor who is the party releasing possible claims in exchange for something of value. The releasee is the individual being released from liability.

While not necessary for a release and waiver agreement, money is often offered as a consideration. Other goods and services can also be offered as consideration. When the consideration is something of value, usually both parties agree to the release and waiver agreement. However, if the consideration is deemed less than acceptable, a court may determine that the contract was unenforceable.

After the damage has been made to someone's personal property, a damage to personal property release might be used. Personal property refers to anything you own for the purposes of the release agreement. This can include electronics, jewelry, shoes, and even your home. The person who caused the damage agrees to compensate the releasor and both parties sign the document when they've reached an agreement.

In cases where property damages are settled out of court, the parties sign a damage to property waiver. Agreeing to sign the waiver prevents the person who experienced the damage from requesting more money later on or filing a lawsuit.

The compensation offered in a damage to personal property release doesn't necessarily have to match the value of the property that was damaged. For instance, if a friend broke your gaming console, you might ask for less money than its value, just to give your friend a break. On the other hand, your friend might offer more money than the console is worth as a way of apologizing. As such, the compensation can be any amount as long as everyone agrees to it.

What is an Activity Waiver and Release Agreement?

An activity provider is an individual or organization providing access to an activity like a marathon, group tour, or other event. The activity provider is generally the releasee in a release and waiver agreement.

The activity waiver and release is used by individuals and businesses that allow others to participate in potentially risky activities. For example, amusement parks might require guests to sign activity waivers before riding any of the rides. Activity waiver and release forms are used in a variety of instances including:

  • Boating
  • Hunting
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Bungee jumping
  • Skydiving
  • Biking
  • Rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Visiting a petting zoo
  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Participating in sports

In general, the court system respects activity waiver and release agreements unless it finds one of the following circumstances:

  • The agreement conflicts with public policy
  • The releasee was grossly negligent
  • The agreement contains ambiguous language
  • The releasor was not aware of the release agreement
  • The releasor is a minor or otherwise lacks the mental capacity to enter into the agreement

In any of these circumstances the court may decide against the party benefiting from the release, so it's important to fully understand the rights being waived.

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