What Is a Release of Liability Agreement?
A release of liability agreement is a legal waiver signed by two parties. One party promises not to sue the other party. The signing party or releasor is indicating that they understand the risks and claim responsibility for any injury that might occur. The signee is acknowledging that they will not sue if any damage occurs.
A release of liability agreement might also be called the following:
Waiver of liability
Release of liability form
When Is a Release of Liability Agreement Used?
A release of liability agreement can be used in many different situations, including any event that might have the potential for physical harm. For instance, these agreements are often used for activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving, or yoga class.
They can also be used after an injury has occurred, such as after a car accident or property damage. The release of liability agreement in these cases usually offers the releasor money in exchange for the promise not to sue.
Business owners, event organizers, sponsors, or hosts should always consider what potential risks are involved with a certain event. If there are risks of personal injury or damage, consider having participants sign a release of liability agreement. When people sign a release of liability agreement, they are releasing the business from liability for any harm to themselves that might occur from normal, typical activity.
Example of Release of Liability Agreement in Action
Imagine you and a friend attend a new kickboxing class at the gym down the street. Your friend punches just a bit too hard and sprains her wrist. Because you both signed a release of liability agreement with the gym, your friend cannot hold the gym accountable for her injury.
What Isn't Covered by a Release of Liability Agreement?
A release of liability agreement is intended to cover incidental injuries (those that happen in the course of the physical activity being performed), and not every injury fits into this category. If the patron's injury occurs because the business was negligent, the business might still be at fault.
Back to the kickboxing gym. Your friend's injury from punching too hard is incidental, partially her own fault. However, if the kickboxing gym didn't maintain its property and a roof beam fell off and hit your friend in the head, that's a different type of injury. In that situation, the kickboxing gym is likely liable - regardless of whether your friend signed a release of liability agreement.
Who Must Sign a Release of Liability Agreement?
If you're the owner of this kickboxing gym, you need to have every person who takes one of your classes sign a release of liability agreement. Patrons do not need to sign a waiver before every class, but each person must sign once.
The benefit to this is that you'll have many copies of the release of liability agreement, but you only need to make one. If done well, one release of liability will be enough for your business.
What's on a Release of Liability Agreement?
A release of liability agreement should describe the physical activity that will be performed at your business with as much detail and clarity as possible.
The more detail you can provide, the more likely you'll be covered for any injuries. This also benefits your customers, as once they read and sign the release of liability agreement, they will know exactly what type of physical activity they're getting into.
Elements to Include in a Release of Liability Agreement
A release of liability agreement must contain a few specific elements.
Releasor: Identify the person who is promising not to take legal action against the owner, organizer, business by signing the agreement.
Releasee: This is the owner, organizer, or business who planned, manages, runs the business that is at risk of being sued.
Effective date: Include the date when the agreement shall take effect or start.
Event: This gives a full and detailed a description of the event or activity in which the releasor is participating.
Consideration: This is the promise of money or something of legal value in return for the releasor signing the document.
Governing law: This declares in which state any disagreement will be settled.
Admission of wrongdoing: A statement that neither party is admitting wrongdoing by signing the release of liability.
Address past or potential future injury with:
Assumption of risk: The participant acknowledges that they understand they are taking part in a risky activity.
Insurance: The individual is responsible for providing their own medical, health, and life insurance.
Medical treatment: The injured person will not sure, even if medical assistance given during emergency treatment at the event further injures them.
Modifications: State that any changes to the document must be in writing.
Parent or guardian signature: For minors under 18, the parent or guardian must co-sign.
Photo release: The participant allows the event to use their image and voice in connection with the event.
Right to an attorney: The document can be viewed by an attorney before signature, but each person is signing voluntarily.
Severability: The document as a whole is valid even if one part is not.
Witness or notary: A witness must sign to indicate that they saw both parties sign the document.
There are many places online to find templates for creating your own release of liability agreement for your company. You can use UpCounsel's template or speak with an attorney to have them draw up a release of liability agreement for your business.
Language That Should Be Used in a Release of Liability Agreement
The language used in a release of liability agreement should be readable, clear, and thorough. A release of liability agreement shouldn't sound overly legal; it must be understood by those who read it so they know what they're signing.
There's no way to cover every possibility when writing a release of liability agreement. The agreement also doesn't have to be overly formal or legal-sounding to be enforceable.
Keep the language simple. The most important thing to make clear is that the person signing is releasing the other party from liability for any past or future damages or injury. The signee takes full responsibility for any injuries they may suffer when participating in this activity.
The release should also clearly identify the activity and the potential risks and state that the participant is aware of the potential risks involved.
The tone and language used to write this document should clear and understandable - and therefore easily enforceable. Ordinary people aren't legally sophisticated. Make it easy for them to understand what they're signing.
Additionally, the part of the document saying that, by signing, the participant releases the event organizer from liability should be bolded, in larger type, or made to stand out in some way.
You can also include a space for initialing so that the person signing acknowledges specifically that they read this portion.
Factors Considered by the Courts
A release of liability agreement is a way to protect your business. It's not an open invitation to act irresponsibly.
A court may decline to enforce your release of liability agreement. For this reason, it's important that the agreement isn't unfair to the participant, that it's not overly one-sided, and that it's clearly understandable. If the language is overly complex, it could lead to a claim that the person who signed didn't actually understand what they were signing. The language should be clear and specific.
Even a perfectly written release of liability agreement doesn't have to be upheld in court.
Types of Release of Liability Agreements
There is a release of liability agreement for every possible situation. The types of release of liability agreements listed below are most common or are broad enough to cover many types of activity.
General Release of Liability Agreement
This type of release of liability agreement is used for the releasor to give up all known and unknown claims against the other party.
A general release of liability is flexible and comprehensive. It can handle most situations and gives broad protection from the most common disputes.
Mutual Release of Liability Agreement
A mutual release of liability agreement is used when both parties are giving up all past and future claims against each other.
This release is most often used for a disagreement over a broken contract. This type of release is useful when both parties believe the other is at fault.
The mutual release of liability allows both parties to walk away from the agreement instead of going through a long, expensive legal battle.
Automobile Accident Release
This type of release is used when two parties involved in a car accident decide not to sue one another. Typically, the party who was injured or has car damage signs the automobile accident release as part of an agreement for payment.
The party that caused the accident agrees to pay a certain amount and in return, the injured party receives the money and agrees not to file a future lawsuit.
Waiver for Damage to Property
When a dispute for property damage is settled out of court, a waiver for damage to property is signed. The property can include a home, land, jewelry, or other moveable possessions.
The waiver for damage to property makes it so that the person cannot ask for more money or file a lawsuit later on.
Release for Personal Injury
This type of agreement is used when someone is injured but agrees not to sue in exchange for money or something else of value.
Both physical and psychological damage can be considered physical injury.
Waiver for Participation in an Event or Activity
This is the document that most people will be familiar with. It's used by entertainment companies to require participants to give up all future claims against the owner or organizer for personal injury.
It's also the type of waiver that's signed before going rock climbing, going to yoga class, or playing paintball.
Keep in mind, this type of waiver only protects the company from incidental injury. Even if you've signed a release of liability agreement for personal injury at an event, you can still sue for injuries that result from organizer negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care.
Waiver of Liability When Selling a Car
Depending on your state, you might need a waiver of liability when selling your car. Until the title and registration of a car are transferred over to the new owner, you are liable for any accidents or injuries caused by the buyer and new owner of the car.
Because of this, most states require notification when you sell a car.
Consequences of Not Using a Release of Liability Agreement
There are numerous consequences for not using a release of liability agreement - both for the releasor and for the releasee.
For the releasor:
Lost time due to legal battles and hiring an attorney
The expense of unpaid medical bills or unfixed property damage
For the releasee:
Lost time spent in a courtroom instead of managing the business
The expense of legal fees and damages if case is lost
Mental anguish and fear of organizing future events
- What is a release of liability agreement?
A release of liability agreement releases one party from liability for injury while transferring the responsibility for that injury to another party.
- What's an example of a release of liability agreement?
You would sign a release of liability agreement prior to going skydiving. Skydiving is an activity that naturally has a risk for injury.
Participants sign a release of liability agreement stating that they understand the risks associated with skydiving and that if they are injured while participating, they will not hold the skydiving company responsible.
- Who needs a release of liability?
Any company that organizes events or offers activities that carry a risk of injury should have participants sign a release of liability agreement.
- Are there any other uses of a release of liability agreement?
A release of liability agreement might also be used to release another party from the potential of a lawsuit for a past injury.
A car accident is a good example. If your vehicle is hit, the other person might offer to pay for your damages in exchange for your promise not to sue them. In this case, you would sign a release of liability promising not to sue them now or in the future.
If your business is considering a release of liability agreement, don't hesitate to reach out the highly respected lawyers of UpCounsel for help or advice in writing your release of liability agreement.
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Writing well, just like speaking well is a valuable communication skill especially when it comes to business matters.
Business letters tend to be more formal and are often sent to people we don’t know. They need to convey the right tone - whether it be authority, disagreement, satisfaction or gratitude.
Whenever you write to a prospect, customer, supplier or an employee it is vital to present aprofessional document so you can make the right impression.
To get you started, we've prepared a list of standard business letter templates. You can use them freely for your own use with our compliments.
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The undersigned, in consideration of one dollar ($1.00) does hereby remise, release, and forever discharge _____________________________, his heirs, assigns, executors, and administrators from all actions, causes of action, claims and demands whatsoever, whether or not well founded in fact or in law, and from all suits, debts, dues, sums of money, accounts, reckonings, notes (or bonds), bills, specialties, covenants, contracts, controversies, agreements, promises, trespasses, damages, judgments, executions, claims and demands whatsoever, at law or in equity that undersigned ever had, now has, or that his heirs, executors or administrators hereafter may have against the party hereby released by reason of any matter, cause or thing whatsoever up to and including the day of the date of this release.
It is the specific intent and purpose of this instrument to release and discharge any and all claims and causes of action of any kind or nature whatsoever, whether known or unknown and whether specifically mentioned or not, which may exist or might be claimed to exist at or prior to the date of this instrument and undersigned specifically waives any claim or right to assert that any cause of action or alleged cause of action or claim or demand has been, through oversight or error or intentionally or unintentionally, omitted from this release.
Dated this ____________ day of _____________, 20 __.
In the presence of:
© R. P. Emery & Associates - www.rpemery.com
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