Despite the safety measures you have in place, someone got hurt at your place of business. This may not be totally unexpected if you offer a service that has an element of risk, such as recreational activities, gyms, travel companies or festival events. However, the injured party is now planning to sue your company, and you are wondering if this is possible since all your customers must sign a waiver.
What many misunderstand about liability waivers is that they do not protect you from a lawsuit. An injured customer may still have the right to file a claim against your business for injuries, but a well-constructed and signed waiver can provide the court with evidence that you informed your customer of the dangers and the customer accepted the risk. The trick is having a solid waiver in your customer contract.
Making your waiver count
First, it is important to know that the laws are different in every state regarding the release of liability, and those laws often change after successful challenges. This is why it is not in your business’ best interests to download a generic release for from an online website and add it to your customer contract. Your waiver should be drafted carefully and specifically for your industry by someone who has a firm grasp of Iowa laws. These are some tips for drafting a waiver for your business:
- Make the liability release easy for customers to find in your contract. Burying critical information in small print or dense text will not go well for you if the case goes to trial.
- Use clear language that your average customer will understand, not legal jargon that may be confusing.
- Complete all the blank forms before asking your customer to sign so the customer understands every element of the contract.
- Train your staff to carefully review the waiver release and ensure the customer understands what he or she is signing, especially if the customer seems to have difficulty seeing, reading or understanding the contract.
- Enlist the assistance of an attorney instead of trying to draft the contract on your own.
Your waiver is not a substitute for liability insurance, so cutting corners by omitting insurance from your budget may be a mistake that cripples your business. Additionally, courts are not quick to side with a business whose waiver attempts to release the company or employees from liability for injuries suffered due to gross negligence or intentional injuries. If your company faces a lawsuit despite having a waiver, you may benefit from the assistance of a skilled legal professional.