If your business provides a service that can potentially be risky for your customers, having an enforceable liability waiver is crucial to preventing you from drowning in litigation. This can include anything from an indoor “rock climbing” facility or trampoline park to an escape room or haunted house. It can include services like bike and e-scooter rentals.
These are just a handful of examples. If you’re unsure of whether you need to have customers sign a waiver of liability, it’s typically better to be safe than sorry. Even one successful lawsuit can derail a new business. There are a lot of liability waiver “templates” out there. However, it’s critical that your document reflect your unique service and that there’s nothing that could make it unenforceable should someone challenge it.
Typically, a liability waiver protects businesses from people’s negligence, recklessness and failure to adhere to the rules they set. It won’t protect a business if an injury is caused by its own intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
Requirements for a legally sound waiver
The crafting and presentation of the waiver is highly relevant to its enforceability. For example, whether a waiver is a printed or online document, it should:
- Be in language that’s understandable (not in “legalese”)
- Be in print large enough to be readable
- Not be so long that people can’t reasonably be expected to read it
Further, customers or guests need to be given enough time to read the waiver. It’s also preferable that it be a clearly marked document separate from any other documents that a business provides or requires people to sign or attest that they’ve read.
If the waiver is for an event or some type of “experience,” like a murder mystery dinner or haunted house, it’s wise to note some of the potential dangers or things that some people might find disturbing. You don’t want to give away the details, which are part of the fun, but a waiver that’s too ambiguous can be deemed invalid.
This is just a very brief discussion of some of the key elements needed to ensure a liability waiver’s enforceability should your business face a liability claim. Each waiver needs to be unique to the business and its service(s). Getting sound legal guidance is the best first step to crafting a waiver that can potentially save your business money, time and reputational harm – and help you keep your customers safe at the same time.