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RELEASE OF LIABILITY: WHAT IS IT AND WHY DO YOU NEED IT?

A release of liability is a legally-binding document that releases a party from liability. In other words, one party agrees they will not take legal action against the other party in the event of an accident or injury while attending an event or participating in an activity. It’s usually an agreement between a business and customers, clients or individuals.

By signing a release of liability form, you acknowledge that you understand and accept the risks associated with whatever it relates to. You then waiver the right to future claims against the company or event manager for any injuries, discomfort or difficulties experienced. Release of liability forms help to limit the number of negligence suits that are filed against businesses.

A release of liability form also goes by the following names:

  • conditional and unconditional waiver form
  • general waiver form
  • legal release form
  • liability waiver form
  • waiver of liability agreement

What is included in a release of liability?

A basic release of liability form includes the following:

Details of the releasor

The person who promises not to sue or take legal action against the business owner, the organiser of an event or a company offering a specific activity. List the full names and contact details of all people in a group that one release of liability form represents.

Details of the releasee

The business owner, the organiser of an even or a company offering a specific activity.

Date

Effective date when the agreement shall take effect

Event or circumstances

A description of where, how or what the person/entity will be doing where there is an inherent risk of getting injured, maimed or killed.

Consideration

Anything paid or promised to prompt the releaser to sign the release of liability document.

Address

Specify in which state the event or circumstance will take place, so that the governing law of that state may apply.

What you need to know about release of liability forms

As a business owner, event manager or company offering activities and excursions; you need to know the limitations of a release of liability form.

A person or party that has signed a release of liability form can still sue you

An injured party is still within his/her rights to sue your company or sue you in your personal capacity, if gross negligence can be proven or where there has been an international wrongful act or an infringement of a right outside of what is an ordinary expectation.

The person is under the legal contract age

The legal contract age differs from state to state but, in general, the age a person is required to be to sign a legally-binding contract is 18 years and older. In this case, a parent or guardian must sign for the person who is under the legal contract age.

Report any occurrence regardless

You are obliged to report any occurrence regardless of whether an injured person or party threatens to sue. You need to notify your insurer that something has happened that could lead to a claim. Immediately send a copy of the release of liability form. Don’t attempt to handle the injury claim yourself.

Liability of release forms are not a substitute for liability insurance

Don’t be mistaken to think that you don’t need to take out liability insurance just because you get your customers or event attendees to sign a liability of release form. The latter may cover you for minor issues and discourage some lawsuits, but rest assured; you may still face a large lawsuit if you’re found guilty of gross negligence or a wrongful act.

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Types of release of liability forms

A release of liability form is typically filled in and signed before an event or activity, but it’s also common for one to be signed after a particular incident. A company or event manager may offer a person/party monetary or other compensation to dissuade them from making a legal claim.

This is often done where both parties agree that there was negligence but both would prefer to avoid an expensive lawsuit, and agree to settle the dispute out of court. The injured person or party then waivers his/her right to sue after both parties have reached a mutual settlement.

General release

Often used when a person or party broadly gives up all known and unknown claims against another party. A general release of liability tends to be more flexible and all-inclusive, although just enough to handle broad matters and situations.

Mutual release

It differs from general release in that both parties give up all past and future claims against each other to avoid a long and expensive legal process. Both parties use the mutual release form to walk away from the original release of liability form.

Vehicle accident release

Where there has been a vehicle accident but no significant personal or vehicle damage, both parties agree to not lay a charge nor claim for damages from the insurance company. This could be a minor bumper-bashing where it is more hassle to claim from insurance than warrants the damage.

Waiver for damage to property

This document is used for any damage to real property (land and buildings) and personal property (jewelry, technology, appliances). It’s used when both parties decide to come to a settlement without going through the courts, and at the same time waiver their rights on future claims.

Release for personal injury

This is used for cases of personal and/or psychological injury but where both parties agree to reach a settlement without going through the courts, and at the same time waiver their rights on future claims. It’s usually for a minor injury that can be treated on the property or at home, and won’t cause problems in the future.

Waiver for participation in an event or activity

This form is commonly used by event companies and entertainment companies that need to safeguard themselves against all future claims for personal and/or psychological injury. A person or party acknowledges that they accept there is an inherent risk to attending the event or participating in an activity. It covers everything from music concerts and sports events to paintball, shark cage diving, bungee jumping etc.

Vehicle release of liability

This form is often used when a person privately sells a car to someone. There is a period of time between a person taking the car from a seller and getting it registered in their name and insured. The vehicle release of liability form protects the seller from future claims if the car is involved in an accident and someone gets injured.

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