The subject of liability waivers is a big one for gyms, sports camps, sports leagues, etc… If you think all my clients/customers sign a liability waiver and/or release of liability I am protected against lawsuits, you are not only mistaken you could be putting yourself in jeopardy in the event of an injury.
This week I was at my gym and observed several instances where the gym could be deemed at fault and their liability waiver would not hold up in court. The first was during a spin class; there were several seats that were broken, including one rider who fell off due to a faulty seat. While these things happen and this wouldn’t be considered gross negligence, this isn’t the first time I have been in a spin class at this gym where seats were broken. The second instance where I know that a waiver would not hold up was when I went to pick up my daughter at the club’s daycare, the contract for the daycare states there will be no more than 4 kids per adult supervisor, when I went to pick her up she was at the outdoor play area (which included a bounce house) with 9 other children and only 1 adult supervising them. This is strictly against what the club states in their liability waiver, so if a child was injured the club would 100% be liable for that.
Some of the pitfalls of waivers are:
- Waivers typically only provide coverage for regular negligence, not gross negligence
- Injury/claim occurred outside of activities specifically described in the waiver
- Unclear language in a waiver can cause it to be rendered useless
- Believe it or not font size can invalidate a waiver
- Waiver is signed by a minor and not parent/legal guardian
- Waiver is attached to the contract and or membership agreement
Waivers and releases of liability are essential in good risk management and are often times required by an insurance company to be in place before they provide you with a policy. We have some great resources including insurance carrier approved waivers, tips on how to draft and construct a waiver for your particular business, law firms that advise on waivers and related subjects, as well as a risk management library on how to deal with a claim in the event that one occurs.
It is important to remember that even the best waiver and or release of liability agreement will not take the place of getting the proper insurance policy in place to fully protect your business.
As always if you have any questions regarding proper fitness studio insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out.