Almost a third of small businesses face top hazards each year. Even more shockingly, up to 40% of businesses aren’t insured against basic risks.
What can you do if you can’t afford business insurance?
Whether you are insured or not, risk mitigation can help protect you and your services. A liability waiver can help protect you from risks before they even happen.
Let’s talk about liability waivers and what they can do to protect you. Below are some common questions about how to use waivers at every level of business.
1. What Is a Liability Waiver?
A liability waiver is a binding agreement between two parties (those listed in the document). Liability waivers include legal verbiage and can be lengthy in nature.
Liability waivers simplify risk mitigation. If someone injures themselves while engaging in some kind of business with you, they might expect you to assume full responsibility for the incident.
Release forms serve as proof that a customer or other parties have waived their right to file liability claims. If a client experiences an injury or other distress while engaging in services or events offered by a company, they must act in accordance with the agreement they signed.
2. Who Utilizes Release of Liability Waivers?
Businesses frequently use release forms to protect themselves in the event of injury. If your business is insured, your policy may require you to use liability waivers to help protect your business.
Liability is not limited to large companies, though. Any entity assuming risk can utilize a release form. This includes individuals offering any kind of service.
For instance, if you run a small doggy daycare and one dog bites another dog, a signed liability waiver can come in handy. While the incident may prove stressful at the onset, you will have a plan of action ready to use.
3. Why Do I Need a Liability Waiver?
Once an event or service results in an injury, things can move quickly. Clients may come together demanding action on your part. The reputation of your business can suffer if word spreads of wrongdoings.
No matter how clearly you communicate with clients or how ethical your actions are, you can’t rely on intent to protect your business. Businesses run more smoothly if they have clear terms with clients right from the beginning.
Of course, you will still want to do your best to avoid a negative experience for clients.
If potential clients know their rights from the beginning, this may give them peace of mind. Even those who are unsettled during an incident will have a point of reference when attempting to make claims against you.
4. What Kind of Situations Require a Waiver?
A number of situations can require a waiver. If a person is in an accident while ridesharing, for instance, they could sue the company to help cover their health expenses. If the company’s terms and conditions are not made clear, the client may use that to their advantage.
Ordinary negligence is a common reason people make liability claims.
If you own property or provide a valuable service, daily maintenance may not guarantee the safety of your clients. Equipment could break or malfunction, advice could result in loss of time or money, etc. The action does not have to be intentional to be considered negligent.
Gross negligence is a more serious matter. This involves claims that an owner or provider was aware of a particular hazard and failed to act in a timely manner on said knowledge.
5. How Specific Should a Liability Waiver Form Be?
Experienced business owners will tell you to be as specific as you can. Cover your bases in terms of negative situations that might arise.
Businesses and individuals assuming greater risk will want to put more time and money into their work. Some businesses hire an attorney to help create clear, well-formatted documents.
When drafting a release form, put yourself in the other party’s shoes. What possible scenarios could play out while engaging in services with you? What situations will clients consider preventable? Will clients feel as forgiving once an incident has happened, even if they express little concern prior to the event?
6. Can Courts Overturn a Binding Agreement?
If you create a liability waiver and have individuals sign, the intent is to avoid situations involving the court. Individuals have taken businesses or other individuals to court for what they interpret to be unfair or unjustified agreements, a process that can get messy quickly.
In some cases, individuals failed to thoroughly read the waiver before signing, which is surprisingly common. In rare situations, individuals have found misleading verbiage, unreasonably small print, or manipulation on the part of a business.
Once you sign a document, expect to follow it to the letter. Unless an agreement violates state law or public policy, your agreement is binding.
If a competitor is taken to court, this is a great opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Make sure your form addresses such an incident before the same thing happens to your company.
7. Where Can I Get a Free Liability Waiver Form?
With so much business being conducted on a daily basis, drafts are constantly being written and revised. Many release forms are available online. You can also obtain a copy from a business for comparison purposes.
When using a template, you want to be able to add or take away relevant information. A good template will cover the basic needs of your business before making any edits. You can discover more and check out some free templates in the process.
If you are creating an agreement for a rapidly-growing business, be sure to save your template and make revisions as needed. Make note of ways your business might need protection as client needs change, too.
Protecting Your Business in An Evolving Landscape
When written with care, a liability waiver can protect both parties. Clients will appreciate when businesses make them aware of potential risks. Businesses will have a strategic advantage when they proactively address possible risks.
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