From time to time I would ghost write blogs with my collaborator Susan Hornak for various businesses and professionals. Here is an example of one written for a local attorney:
Liability releases, also known as waivers or hold harmless agreements, are a common feature of American business transactions. We’ve all heard they are not enforceable in court or have no value. In fact, the opposite is true. A well drafted liability release can reduce risk in the operation of your business by discouraging lawsuits against you.
Another benefit of a liability release is it helps your company defend itself against lawsuits. A comprehensive release informs the person signing the form of the risks generated by the activity they’re about to engage in and the signer agrees to accept those risks. When these two conditions are contained in the release, the legal defense known as assumption or risk is possible, buttressing your position in case of litigation.
A well-drafted liability release informs the parties about risks, so it needs to be very comprehensive and specific. The release should cover all the ordinary risks generated by the activity and contingencies if possible. A release should comprehensively include all people and business entities that could be sued. Listing the released parties’ category rather than by individual name is the safest course of action. If the members of the category change, new members to the category are automatically covered by the existing release.
Since the person signing a liability release form can only sign away their own rights, each person who might sue you needs to sign a liability release. For example, a boarder can’t sign away their family members’ and guests’ legal rights.
Make sure the people executing the release are legally able to. Minors can’t execute an enforceable contract so they can’t sign away their legal rights. When you have a person under 18 participating in an activity, you need a release designed for the parent or guardian of that participant to sign, stating they accept the risks of the activity to the child. Remember, a parent or guardian signing a liability release only waives that person’s rights to sue, not the other parents’ or guardian’s rights’. It is best to have the other parent or guardian sign the release if possible. If that is not possible, try to include an indemnification clause in the liability release.
Some rights cannot be waived by law. For example, you may not waive your right to make a worker’s compensation claim as a matter of law. Ask your attorney if the risk you are trying to include in the transaction is one that can be waived.
Consider having a lawyer review your release. It is always advisable to have an attorney review any contract you enter into, especially if it has a complex release of liability.