How Organizations Actually Use Waivers In Their Day-to-day Operations
Leah Corrigan  |  August 11th, 2020
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The information provided in this “Best Practices for Effective Deployment of a Liability Waiver” article is for informational purposes only, and the author and WaiverSign make no representation that the contents will effectively protect any legal rights or satisfy your legal obligations, including but not limited to personal or corporate liabilities. In order to protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney. The resources herein, including all verbal and written content, are not provided as legal advice to you, and should not be relied on as such.

Effective Deployment of a Liability Waiver – Best Practices

While ensuring that you have a well-drafted, accurate, and legally compliant liability waiver is important, an often overlooked issue is how organizations actually use the waiver in their day-to-day operations. If a business’s waiver process is inconsistent with the concepts of full and fair disclosure of the limits of your liability, the effectiveness of your waiver could be undercut.

Below we will discuss the following five tips for the effective deployment of a liability waiver:

  1. Provide the liability waiver ahead of time
  2. Use a normal font size and style
  3. Don’t intermingle the waiver with other registration materials
  4. Train your staff not to explain or interpret the liability waiver for customers
  5. Pay attention to red-flags when participants review your waiver

1. Provide the liability waiver ahead of time

While there are no uniform or hard and fast rules regarding the length of time a person who signs a waiver should have to read it, you should ensure your customer has sufficient time to read and understand the terms of the waiver.Utilizing an electronic waiver service like WaiverSign is a good way to provide the waiver electronically before your customer arrives, allowing them sufficient time to fully review the waiver. Following this practice will eliminate any argument from a future plaintiff that they were rushed and didn’t understand what they were signing.

2. Use a normal font size and style

A liability waiver is a binding legal contract. It likely contains provisions wherein a person who may be injured by your negligence agrees not to sue you if they are hurt or killed. As a trial lawyer, I don’t want to be defending a liability waiver in court that has a silly font, or a tiny text size that is illegible. I want the jury or judge to know that as an organization or business, you treat your liability waiver as the serious document that it is.

3. Don’t intermingle the waiver with other registration materials

Avoid the temptation to combine registration materials, medical questionnaires, or other information within the same document as your waiver. For the same reasons as described in number 2, above, you do not want to appear to “bury” the waiver provisions within less important documents. A liability waiver is a serious legal contract – it shouldn’t be disguised, buried, polluted, or otherwise made less obvious to your customer by lumping it in with other documents.

4. Train your staff not to explain or interpret the liability waiver for customers

It is human nature, particularly in service-based businesses, for staff to want to give customers the answer they are looking for. It is unrealistic to expect staff to give the correct legal answer to a customer asking about waiver provisions, and an answer inconsistent with the written waiver can create serious problems in the event of a lawsuit. If a customer has concerns about the waiver and wishes to discuss it, that discussion should be with a manager or owner who has been trained by an experienced lawyer in how to respond to waiver questions. Providing the waiver well ahead of time will make this process easier, and give you time to consult with your lawyer if a difficult question arises.

5. Pay attention to red-flags when participants review your waiver

If you have a customer who, after reviewing your waiver, expresses trepidation or worry about engaging in the activity or experience or waiving their right to sue, this should raise a red flag. Some customers who are uncomfortable with or unwilling to assume the risks of the activity or experience should be let go. If you begin to feel that you are trying to talk someone into signing your waiver, pay attention to that red flag.

Following these five tips for liability waiver deployment will help ensure that your waiver is as effective as it should be in the event of a lawsuit.

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Leah Corrigan

By Leah Corrigan

Leah Corrigan, (Recreation Law Center, LLC), is a lawyer who advises and defends outdoor recreation businesses and organizations. She is an experienced litigator, having represented outdoor industry clients in serious personal injury litigation in multiple states across the West since 2009. She advises clients such as youth camps, river outfitters, equine outfitters, and non-profit experiential education organizations on a wide range of subjects - from liability waivers to sexual harassment, emergency response planning to OSHA. Leah spent ten years as a wilderness river guide before becoming a lawyer. Visit Website
*All information is accurate as of August 2020.
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