Waivers and Releases: Are They Even Binding?
We have all seen them, a sign that reads “We are not responsible for any accidents… blah, blah, blah…” or have even signed a waiver that reads, “I hereby release XYZ Company for any damage or injury… blah, blah, blah…” The fact is, we live in very litigious times and we see these types of waivers and releases every day. If you are like most Americans, you probably spend as much time reading the sign or the release as you do reading the pages and pages of legalese that you are supposed to read before clicking “I accept” when registering on a new website or installing new software. As any good attorney would tell you (whether we heed our own advice or not), you should always read everything before you sign it, especially if it is an agreement attempting to or purporting to cause you to waive rights that you would otherwise have or release the other party from liability that they would otherwise shoulder.
As a rule of thumb, a business cannot (by posting a sign, having you sign a contract, or having you click that you “agree”) be absolved from all liability, particularly if opposing party is injured due to the gross negligence or willful misconduct of the company or business. However, waivers and releases generally can serve to the limit the liability of a business if 1) they are property drafted, 2) the waiver or release does not violate public policy, statutes, rules, regulations or laws and 3) the release of liability must be expressed in unambiguous terms within the four corners of the contract in a conspicuous manner that must alert the party signing that he or she is waiving damages or releasing the business from liability.
As with any contract or legal document, it is critical that a company wishing to use a waiver or release ensure that it is properly drafted and legally binding. At the Strong Firm, we help hundreds of clients each year draft waivers and releases that will stand up to the scrutiny of a legal review, and we would love to do the same for you and your business.
Eric R. Thiergood, Sr.
Phone Number: 866-912-8639
Fax Number: 281-210-1361