Because the risk of injury is an inherent part of any physical activity, Box owners and Coaches are constantly striving to implement stringent safety protocols that will protect both members and service providers. But no matter how robust your culture of safety, fitness service providers must take further steps to protect themselves from the potential of member injuries.
Enter the waiver. Many readers will be familiar with the basic concept of a waiver, but the importance of a properly drafted waiver and waiver protocol cannot be understated.
First, a simple definition: a waiver is a legal contract between two parties in which one party voluntarily relinquishes a legal right. In the fitness context, a waiver is a contract between a fitness service provider and a member/participant in which the member agrees to relinquish its right to hold the provider responsible for the negligent acts or mistakes of the provider or its agents, and agrees that he or she assumes the inherent risks of engaging in the activity.
The purpose and importance of a waiver is fairly self-evident. For prospective members, a waiver outlines the risks associated with engaging in the physical activity and using the facility, and allows a member to make an informed decision regarding whether they want to be exposed to those risks. For Box owners and Coaches, a waiver provides a degree of protection from lawsuits that may arise from injuries that occur as a result of participating in the activity, or from the negligent acts of the service provider.
Although service providers have their pick of free template waivers online, not all waivers are created equal. There are a number of aspects providers should consider when adopting waivers — both in terms of the language used in the waiver and the systems in place to make sure the waivers are used properly:
An important note: These are just a few of the important aspects of an enforceable waiver and effective waiver program. The enforceability of certain waiver provisions can vary dramatically from state to state — so the best course of action is to consult an attorney in your state or jurisdiction who understands the law, and preferably one who understands the scope of the activity in which your participants will engage.
NOTE: None of the information in this article is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only, does NOT constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel from an attorney.