If your business offers a service to the public, chances are you have concerns about the safety of your customers or clients. For example, owning a gym, offering hang gliding lessons or operating a firearms training facility involve activities during which your clients could easily become injured. As part of your customer agreement for using the services of your company, you may require them to sign a liability waiver.
This form explains that your customer is participating in the activity or service with full knowledge of the dangers involved. By signing, your client agrees to release you from liability if he or she gets hurt. If you use or intend to use such a waiver in your business, it is important that you understand its protections and limitations.
Safe from lawsuits? Maybe not.
A liability waiver is an important contract between you and your clients. It clarifies the risks involved and explains that your business is not responsible for injuries customers suffer. However, it is important that you also have adequate insurance to protect your business in case of an accident. Some business owners make the mistake of believing that a liability waiver protects them from all threat of a lawsuit. Nothing could be further from the truth.
An injured customer can still file a lawsuit against you, and the waiver will simply be evidence that the customer understood the dangers of the activity and accepted the risk. A court may nevertheless rule in favor of the injured customer if additional evidence shows your business was in some way negligent regarding the customer's safety, or the actions of your employees intentionally caused harm to the customer.
Do not cut corners
You may be tempted to go online and download a generic waiver form. However, Louisiana, like other states, has its own rules regarding the enforceability of waiver release forms, and a generic form may not address those restrictions. Other important mistakes to avoid include these:
- Not having all important information on the form when your customer is ready to sign
- Using complex legal jargon that may confuse your customer
- Hiding the release details in fine print or within heavy blocks of text
- Failing to accommodate customers who may have difficulty seeing, reading or understanding the terms of the release
One way to be certain your waiver complies with state law and protects you as fully as possible is to have an experienced Louisiana attorney assist you in drafting your waiver form.