We’ve all been through those times when we are engaging in slightly more extreme than usual activities and have had to ‘sign our rights away’ before we could begin. That game of paintball or that martial arts sparring tournament was just so tempting. So what exactly was that form? It would have been a liability waiver form.

If you are involved in sports and require a liability waiver form it is important to seek advice with a sports lawyer.

What is a Liability Waiver Form?

A liability waiver is a specific legal document drafted by someone who wants to reduce the risk of being liable for any potential accidents, injuries or misfortunes from an event or the facilities that they are hosting. The host party would give the form to the individual for them to sign, limiting the extent of when they could potentially sue the host.

In other words, if someone was harmed under your general supervision they would be entitled to undertake legal proceedings for the right to blame or be compensated. However, signing the waiver of liability means that they are generally waiving their right to sue you.

Why would you need it?

As a business owner, it would be in your best interest not to be accountable or sueable for an incident that just happened to occur on your premises or during your event. With the use of such forms, the potential to be taken to court for misfortunes will definitely be reduced – but not completely, there are some exceptions. For instance, you would need this if you are in the field of surgery, scuba diving or certain aeronautical services to name a few.

When would it NOT protect you?

  1. Negligence cases
  2. If you clearly were ‘negligent’ or dismissive in situations, e.g. your bungee jumping equipment was not well maintained and broke causing the death of someone. In that case, you would likely be considered negligent and the liability waiver form will not protect you from facing heavy legal action.

  3.  Security issues:
  4. You cannot waive liability for not having various alarms such as smoke detectors or fire escapes in place.

  5.  Essential/of public interest services:
  6. If your service was considered ‘crucial’ and causes harm (such as the water supply being contaminated), you would unlikely be able to rely on a liability waiver if they had one in place.

  7. If you have superior bargaining power over the other
  8. Having superior bargaining power could easily pressure or force your client into blindly agreeing to their terms, of which could be a liability waiver. In scenarios like this, there is the potential for these waivers to not stand, most likely pending a court decision.

  9. If the waiver attempts to relieve a statutory obligation
  10. Many public sector institutions have specific statutory duties which cannot be delegated away.

  11.  If the waiver is ambiguous
  12. Liability waivers need to be clear in their expression and their intentions. They must be specific and not overly vague so as to generalise.

  13.  Fraud or misrepresentation is in play
  14. If, for example, your rock climbing business advertised assisted climbing but forced its customers to free climb.

So…

In general, it is best to have a liability waiver form in place, taking into consideration some of the examples that would void it. As the age old saying goes… it really is better to be safe than sorry.

If you are a sportsperson, a sporting club or involved in sports-related matters and require a liability waiver form, it is important to seek advice with a sports lawyer.

Still unsure about liability waiver forms? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to get fixed price quotes to get advice from an experienced lawyer specific to your needs.

Anthony Fong

Anthony Fong

Anthony is a Paralegal at Lawpath. Pursuing his interest for Insolvency and Commercial Law, he is currently completing his third year of a combined degree in a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce at University of New South Wales.