*Guest post from our friends at Conscious Counsel . Written by Cory Sterling
If you are operating your business without comprehensive, personalized liability waivers, you are walking on eggshells.
It’s wild to realize we are fast approaching the end of 2021.
Our entire industry has changed and shifted. And as a result, you must change and shift too in order to survive and thrive in this new landscape we are living in.
Whether you’re hosting hot flow yoga at your local studio, fitness classes at your gym, teaching Pilates online or are the go-to massage professional in your community, you’ll need a waiver of liability before working with your clients.
A Waiver of Liability protects your business from the vast majority of claims & lawsuits. In today’s post-pandemic world, with Cov!d still running rampant, a waiver of liability is more important than ever: it’s your #1 defense from getting sued and being held liable.
Our friends at Conscious Counsel shared some tips with us about what you need to include in your waiver of liability to ensure it’s up-to-date and enforceable.
What is a Waiver of Liability?
A Waiver of Liability is a legal document between you and your clients that outlines the inherent foreseeable risks of your activities/offerings/services and releases you (the business owner) from liability.
Do you need a waiver of liability for your business?
If someone gets hurt on your watch (a.k.a. during one of your classes, offerings or services), a professionally written waiver will protect you from liability (being sued, etc.) A Waiver of Liability is your frontline defense. It will protect you from the vast majority of claims.
Can you copy and paste a waiver from a similar business to yours? Or can you use a generic waiver or DIY template you downloaded off the Internet?
Please, please, please....don’t do this. Ever. I say this with love.
While it may be tempting (and although your business may be similar to others in your industry), your business is uniquely different and your waiver must be crafted to address your specific products and services.
DIY contracts and generic templates leave out key legal provisions. This will go against the legal requirements of a valid contract.
Without a customized & professionally drafted Waiver, there is a high likelihood your waiver will be unenforceable, which defeats the purpose of having a waiver in the first place.
Here's an analogy...Imagine I'm hiking Mt. Everest. I'm a size 12 shoe. The hike goes great because I'm prepared with the proper equipment for my weight, size, etc.
After, you decide to hike Mt. Everest, too. You're a size 8 shoe, and think you can just wear mine because they're just shoes after all, and what's a few sizes difference?
So what happens?
Disaster. You can barely make it a few miles because snow is getting in your shoes, your toes are freezing, your heels are blistering, you can't grip the ground, and now you must turn back.
You need shoes conducive to support your specific needs. The same goes for legal contracts.
If you do not address the unique nuances, relationships, and agreements specific to your business, you are entering dangerous territory.
It may be tempting to save money on a generic or DIY Waiver (or any legal contract for that matter.) And maybe you've heard other people in your industry do the whole Internet copy and paste thing. However it won't protect you in litigation (or avoiding litigation)...which, by the way, costs (at the low end) $5,000.
I can promise you that doing the due diligence to spend a little upfront to ensure you are protected with proper legal documents is well worth the investment...
An effective waiver, like we draft at Conscious Counsel, meets 4 key requirements: 1.) Clear 2.) Unambiguous 3.) Unequivocal 4.) Specific
1.) Clearly define the activity you and your client will participate in: what is your role in this activity and what does the activity entail?
2.) Communicate the risks: be open and honest in your communication including what can go wrong in the course of the activity.
3.) Client makes a choice: does the client understand the risks involved and voluntarily agree to engage in the activity?
4.) Client signature: have the client sign the waiver to waive future claims and release you from liability.
The key is to be open, honest, and clear. A waiver will NOT apply to protect your business if that waiver contains ambiguous terms.
Want more info on what to include in your waiver of liability? Watch this video here and download the free chapter on waivers from ‘The Yoga Law Book’ on waivers (applicable to wellness industry as a whole.)
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