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Sunday, July 20, 2014

What is a release of liability form?

Definition: Release of liability form
Release of liability forms protect businesses
By  David Incorvaia

A release of liability (ROL) form is simply a form that a business uses to communicate to a patron that informs them of the type or types of risks involved in the activity as specifically as possible and declares that the firm will not be responsible for injury resulting from normal activity while the patron visits the location and participates in the activity.  

According to ehow.com the form creates conditions that a “person is declaring that the company or organization that’s running a certain activity will not be held responsible for any injuries that the person sustains while participating.”[1]  There can be two types of forms a legal entity can create and they are known as a general release and a specific release document.  A general release “encompasses all claims that are in existence between the parties and are within their contemplation when release is executed.”[2]  While a specific release is “generally limited to the particular claims specified there in.”[3]

What the ROL covers

It is important to realize that a release of liability form does not cover all injuries and any injuries brought on by negligence may still be required to be covered by the business if the client were to sustain them during the activity.  According to Cornell University’s School of Law negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act (e.g. a duty to help victims of one’s previous conduct)”[4]. 

So for instance if the business were to fail to perform a specific required maintenance on equipment that the patron were then to injure themselves on while they were performing the specified activity previously established in the ROL; the liability form’s validity could then be called into question and the business may still have to maintain responsibility for the patron’s injuries. This could result into a possible payout to the patron for the injuries sustained.

Releases may also be set aside if any “innocent misrepresentation that is relied upon by the release justifies setting aside a release induced by it,”[5] or if any “fraudulent representation made by the releasee.”[6]  For example if the company creates a fraudulent claim and places it on the release of liability form the client would then have justifiable grounds to prove that the release was invalid, which again would place the company responsible.

Who needs to sign

Another article to consider in maintaining the validity of your company’s ROL form is making sure the right parties have signed the form correctly.  Each person walking through your door that wants to participate in the activity that your company has specified in the document must sign their own individual ROL. “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.”[7]  Do not forget that “children (minors, persons under 18 years of age) can’t sign away their legal rights.  So having a child sign a liability release does absolutely no good.”[8]  A legal guardian or parent however can sign for them in their place which will then create a legally bonding document. 

Conclusion

Maintaining good records helps protect the company and the individual patron should an incident occur, and luckily you will only need to draft one ROL document, so once it is drafted multiple copies can be printed to use for each client.  If the company were to amend the contract a new signature would be required for each patron prior to their participation even if they signed an old contract. ROL documents provide protection for businesses and are an important, simple tool to understand and implement in daily operations.

[1] http://www.ehow.com/about_6129049_meaning-release-liability-assumption-risk_.html
[2] www.legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/release
[3] Ibid
[4] www.law.cornell.eud/wex/negligence
[5] www.legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/release
[6] Ibid
[7] www.equinelegalsolutions.com/whatmakesaliabilityreleaseenforceable.html
[8] Ibid

About the author: David Incorvaia is originally from Orlando, Florida but currently resides in Tallahassee. He has recently graduated from FSU School of Law and is presently set to take the Florida bar exam. For the time being, he recommends that those seeking legal representation for personal injuries in the Orlando area pay a visit to Heil-Law.com.

Image: Brian Turner; CC BY 2.0
"My Trusty Gavel"

1 comment:

  1. Hi David, I just wanted to add that a Release of Liability form is not just exclusively used by businesses. For example, a photographer may have a model sign a release of liability form. Thanks for the great information!

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