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When Does My Business Need a Waiver?

There are a lot of circumstances when a well-crafted waiver document will be an asset for your business. A waiver is simply an agreement whereby someone agrees not to bring a legal claim in the case of a loss or injury.

You agree to waivers all the time, often without even knowing it. When you go to a concert or a game, your ticket almost always includes language stating that you are assuming certain risks and agreeing not to sue. The same thing happens when you enter a parking lot, go in for a medical procedure, or attend a conference. Waivers are everywhere, and your business may need one from time to time even if you’re not putting on big concerts or practicing medicine.

Let’s say you’re hosting some sort of event. Maybe it’s a get-together for your clients. You want everything to go well, of course. But life is full of risks, and you can’t control all of them. For example, someone could get sick from the food you serve, or they could get in a car accident going to or from your event. That’s why it’s wise to have your attendees sign a waiver.

The waiver will include language to the effect that the attendee waives, releases, indemnifies, holds harmless, and discharges you against any claims related to the event. The attendee should certify that they are able to participate in the activities and have not been advised otherwise by a medical professional. The document should also state that the waiver applies to the attendee’s family members, heirs, successors, and assigns, because you want to be protected even in a worst-case scenario.

The waiver should specify which state or country’s law applies, because people may be traveling to your event from all over. And it should state where and how any disputes are to be settled – for example, in binding arbitration in the county in which you do business.

As you can see, there’s a lot of complexity in even a short waiver document. That’s why a waiver is best written by an attorney. If you host events regularly, your lawyer may be able to create a form that you can re-use, with small modifications, over and over. Of course, there are free waiver forms that can be found online, but beware, most of them are not very good. Still, if you really can’t afford a lawyer, something might be better than nothing.

Finally, along with a waiver, you should consider getting insurance for additional protection. Insurance can be purchased for individual events. And many event venues require that you have insurance for their protection as well.

Contact me for help protecting your business.

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