A waiver is a document that details a party’s surrender of certain rights. There are many different types of waivers that may be used in a legal setting. Different waivers include liability waivers, damage waivers, or procedural waivers. Waivers are a complex document and they should not be taken lightly. Because a waiver can affect your legal matters, you should consult a lawyer when considering a waiver.
A waiver will typically detail specific terms that an individual is agreeing to. These terms should be clearly stated, and you should understand them completely before signing the waiver. All waivers must be signed and dated to be official. Some waivers may also require you to get a witness or have the document notarized.
A waiver form, also known as a "release of liability" form, is an important document to have in place if you are doing any of the following:
Waivers are common in places of employment. Many athletes, such as ball-players, skiers, snowboarders, professional race car drivers, and players of almost any sport you may have heard of, must sign waivers in order to be signed to a team or play for a league. Regardless if someone is playing a sport, or working for a job that poses a risk, it is common for employers to make their employees sign waivers. Even cab drivers are sometimes asked to sign waivers when driving for a cab company, as many possibilities can occur en route to their destination.
Even if you're not ready to start your business or coordinate your event - even if these ideas are just a gleam in your proverbial eye - you can save yourself time by drawing up a waiver template and having it at the ready. There are two ways to go about this - either hire a professional to do it for you (less effort, but expensive and entirely unnecessary) or creating your own free waiver. To make the latter option easier, we've broken down the basic components of a waiver below:
It's a good idea to open the waiver form with a simple lead-in so that the waiver works as a personalized form letter. For example:
In other words, there should be some initial text signifying that this is, indeed, a legally binding document and that the contents affect the signer's legal rights. Titling it "Release of Liability" or "Waiver" is a good start, and printing a warning just below the title is a good way to support the evidence.
Typically, these are written in the form of "I agree to" statements. Remember, these need to cover ALL your bases, and all of the applicable laws and considerations should be clearly defined. Here are a couple of example sentences:
I hereby agree that Capital City Spelunking (CCS) is not responsible for any accidents that may occur in the Capitalian Cave Chain or other CCS property.
I hereby agree that I may not file a lawsuit against CCS or any of its employees in the event of accident, injury or death.
Here in the United States, where multiple languages are spoken throughout the country, only offering waivers in English would leave English language learners in the dark as to what they are signing or agreeing to. It is wise to offer waivers in English, as well as other commonly spoken languages in your area to ensure all users are fully aware of what they are signing. For example, if you live in an area with a large Latino population, then it is wise to offer your waiver in English and Spanish. If you live in an area with a large anglo-french population, then it is wise to offer your waiver in English and French.
This is pretty self-explanatory - the recipient of the document must sign and date the form to bring the waiver into effect.
Failing to read user agreements, while ubiquitous, is not without potential risks. Signing a user agreement effectively signs away certain rights. In this guide, we will cover common user agreements and which rights you forfeit in each situation.
Users technically “own” all of the content and information they post on Facebook, including photos and videos. According to the company’s terms of service, another user cannot “tag” you in a post without your consent.
Facebook, on the other hand, has the right to keep the content on your profile, even if you delete your account. By signing Facebook’s user agreement, you grant Facebook the license to use your content for an undetermined period of time. Therefore, any content you “share” or post on a friend’s page cannot be deleted, unless all parties involved delete their accounts.
As Facebook’s terms read: “You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.”
Facebook can use your name, pictures and other information for commercial purposes without providing you any compensation.
Furthermore, Facebook can suspend your page or remove it entirely if you fail to comply with their terms.
Essentially, using a service like Facebook requires voluntary relinquishment of all rights to your content.
Facebook owns Instagram, therefore the user agreements are virtually identical with both sites. Instagram collects all the information you provide and sells it to advertisers. Their privacy terms can be found here: https://help.instagram.com/155833707900388
Twitter obtains “broad” rights to your content. Twitter can sell, change, redistribute, or pass content to partners. Moreover, even if you delete your Twitter account, the rights Twitter grants others (i.e. customers, partners, etc.) to use your content can never be terminated.
Linkedin can copy or make what they term “derivative works” based on user content.
Snapchat reserves the right to “review, screen, and delete your content at any time for any reason.” They can also license your name, voice, etc. to use in the company’s advertising content. Snap, like almost every social media network, is allowed to use the images your post for commercial purposes.
Arbitration clauses are a big legal issue with ride-sharing companies. Companies are increasingly facing legal action challenging the validity of their driver agreements.
In March 2017, Uber argued in a US court that riders cannot sue the company, because they signed the user agreement. Therefore, Uber is not liable for anything that happens to you while you are in the car.
The company’s rights:
Users are required to sign an arbitration agreement in their terms of service when signing up for a streaming account. The user agreement limits your rights of use. For example, you cannot use Netflix for “commercial use,” which includes streaming Netflix in a business setting, in waiting rooms or in lobbies, or at a bar, restaurant or medical office.
Furthermore, Netflix can share what you are watching with their partners.
When you open a new bank account you must sign a user agreement. That agreement typically includes arbitration clauses, which limits your rights to file class-action lawsuits against the bank.
Typical arbitration clauses include:
Moreover, legal action is often more expensive for the consumer and an arbiter might be more partial to the company, making it harder for the consumer to prevail in a legal action. There has also been a recent outcry against arbitration agreements that limit damages for victims of sexual assault. Many state lawmakers are rethinking the legality of forced arbitration procedures to settle workplace disputes.
The issues involving workers suing employers, despite various waivers, has been a long running argument, especially over the enforceability of arbitration agreements with class action waivers. Interestingly, in May of 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that class action waivers in the employment context do not violate the Nation Labor Regulations Act, and are, in fact, enforceable. In short, a person signing a workplace waiver essentially waives his or her procedural rights.
Though some waivers may require an English dictionary and a lot of Googling to figure out some of the words in a waiver, it's well worth your time.
All members sign a liability waiver as part of their gym membership, whether it's on online waiver or a hard copy. Common agreements state the gym is not responsible for any injury or related damages incurred while using the gym (nevertheless, some gyms will carry an insurance policy to further protect them from liability if they were to be sued for a personal injury or gross negligence). Additionally, small gyms, perhaps personally owned or family owned gyms may neglect to purchase incident insurance due to the high cost. However, a better choice would be to form the small gym as an LLC, so despite a waiver, if a customer sues, he or she cannot come after the owner's personal property.
State law may further limit gym liability. Certain states, for example, do not require gym’s to keep medical equipment for treating serious conditions like a heart attack. Additionally, not all states require gyms to have AEDs (defibrillators).
Some gyms, moreover, are not required to have a license to train you. Therefore, when you sign a waiver to hire a personal trainer, be sure to verify your trainer’s licenses and qualifications.
Oftentimes, minors will join gyms either as a class requirement or by personal choice. It is important that if a gym member is a minor, a parent or legal guardian must sign the waiver in order for the minor to legally join the gym, and waive the gym from liability.
Lastly, most gym contracts absolve the gym of responsibility for any lost or stolen items, even if they are stolen out of a locked locker
Most of us sign user agreements on a near-daily basis. We may not have the time to read through the fine print, but it is important we have a sense of the legal ramifications of our signature. This guide was designed to give you a general sense of what is included in the user agreements we are most likely to encounter.
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