What's in a waiver?
A waiver can be the best thing for your business if you ever find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit. The waiver is designed to be a limitation of liability for the business before the person begins to engage in the services offered by that business. Why is it important? As with any other contract, it helps the company to spell out explicitly and succinctly what risks if any exist for the consumer that is engaging a certain business or service. Most businesses have implicit or explicit warnings and waivers to be able to engage with a company. For example, have you ever noticed on the back of a ticket the express warnings of entering a facility for a show or a game? Probably not, but those warnings act as a blanket warning to all fans that enter the venue that there is some risk involved and those risks are acknowledged and assumed by the fan. Additionally, there are warning signs throughout that venue that warns of possibility of harm. The front rows of a concert that may be on camera or have things thrown into the stands, the stands closest to the sports field warning that there may be flying balls, bats, equipment, players, etc. that come into the seats. These warnings help to limit the exposure of the venue in case something should happen to a guest in one of these seats. Clearly if it is something that is catastrophic, the venue will try to mitigate that damage but the waiver still provides a limitation to the exposure of liability.
The waiver for a gum or personal training facility is really no different. The waiver should outline exactly what the client should do or not do and have them acknowledge that they are aware of the responsibility and willing to do what is necessary to avoid such risk or accept the risk of harm to them. For instance, perhaps you include a requirement or suggestion that the new client speak to their doctor and get consent before beginning their membership. If they do not, they are waiving their right to make a claim against you for their failure to follow your mitigating request.
You also can include waivers for blanket concerns that would similar to the example above. The best example is the enter at your own risk. For instance, you indicate that the client is aware that they are entering into a facility with moving machinery that they will use at their own risk with whatever supervision you offer. That any injury due to any misuse of equipment is their own fault and that they will not hold the facility or trainer liable.
You can edit and adapt waivers as you see fit. The most important this is that you have one that covers all of the things you may need in your facility and that the risks are clearly spelled out and subsequently waived by the client.
The waiver is not iron clad another may be times similar to the baseball stadium where you find it is better to make a goodwill payment to avoid any sort of publicity nightmare than to enforce the waiver, and that's ok. The important thing is to give your insurance attorney something to work with for a defense and a place to start negotiating damages. It also may be just enough to have the disgruntled or injured client not commence an action against you at all. Whatever the reason, the waiver is a key contract for your fitness facility and should be implemented to every client as soon as possible.
If you need help drafting your waiver or having your existing waiver reviewed, head back to our website and book an appointment.