Martial arts school owners often give very little attention to their liability waivers or hold harmless agreements because they feel they are not going to protect them from claims and they don’t want to pay for legal advice. The truth is, state laws determine how effective a waiver may be in court, but it is important to always have a well-written waiver in every state.
A liability waiver is intended to release the school from liability for injury resulting from ordinary negligence. To ensure protection, it is important to work with a lawyer in your state with experience in the state liability waiver laws. Although good cost-saving resources are available to help fitness center owners write their own waivers, it is imperative that an experienced attorney review and edit the waiver before it is put into use in your fitness school.
A well-written liability waiver is the best tool a martial arts school owner has to manage risk.
A waiver does not protect a martial arts school from negligence or reckless conduct. When we see big headlines for large claim settlements, there is usually a claim of gross negligence that resulted in serious injury.
So, don’t rely just on a liability waiver to protect your fitness business from claims even if you live in a state with favorable waiver laws. You must take other steps, too, such as carrying an appropriate level of liability insurance, taking all possible steps to protect your members, and documenting all upkeep and maintenance throughout the year.
What Makes a Well-Written Liability Waiver?
As stated above, obtain the assistance of an attorney with experience in the liability waiver laws of your state and preferably one who is also familiar with the fitness industry and your school. In addition, consider these things:
Use a stand-alone waiver document separate from your participation agreement. Write the waiver document so it is specific to activities the participant will engage in at your school.
You can explain to your members and guests how their safety is of the utmost importance to your martial arts school, explain the inherent risks of participation and close by requiring their signature on the release of liability.
A parent must sign the waiver for a minor. Although waivers for minors rarely hold up in court in most states, it still is imperative to obtain one for minor participants in fitness activities and in the childcare facilities at fitness centers. Again, get expert assistance when creating waivers for minors.
Waivers are more than worth the money you spend to write them if they save your fitness business from even one claim – now or in the future. State laws determine how effective a waiver may be in court, but it is important to always have a well-written waiver in every state.