Who, What, and Why:
Liability waivers are a basic component of doing business, helping to protect businesses and organizations while informing athletes that there are potential risks involved with participation. Athlete waivers are relatively simple in terms of understanding what they are (contracts), but understanding the importance of a sports waiver is crucial to making sure you have your legal necessities covered.
The basics of an athlete waiver such as, what it does and doesn't protect a business from, or the validity and legality of such contracts, are essential points every business owner should know. Understanding the basic principles behind sports waivers will be useful in evaluating your needs for using them.
Evaluating Your Business
Determining your need for an athlete waiver isn't terribly difficult, but it will require some thought and a thorough evaluation of the business operations to make sure you cover all necessities. Who are your clientele? What are your clients typically doing in concert with your business? Why would any of these considerations warrant a waiver? When asking these questions it becomes easy to see why a sports training business might need a waiver to protect the business incase of an athlete’s injury.
Who are your typical clients, how old are they and are there any special conditions, and what do you need from them in term of medical records and insurance to keep your business safe? These are some of the typical questions you should be asking yourself. If your business organizes tournaments or houses forums for competition, the age and skill level of your customers deserves consideration.
According to the company SMR (Sports Management Resources), minors in the majority of situations have the right to void the contract.
Types of Activities
What activities does your business support, do you house competitions or training programs? And what are the risks involved with those athletic endeavors? These are the types of questions that should be considered when determining your what should be included in the waivers. Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance state that there are two primary purposes for using waivers:
- Basic protection from any negligible actions
- Informing or advising participants of any inherent risks involved with activities
This can be a rather abstract process, but that could actually work in your favor. In this step of evaluating the risk associated with your business, thinking outside the box will help you to cover every angle and as many scenarios as possible. What inherent risks are involved with the activities and training you provide?
The risk of teenagers suffering an injury competing in recreational beach volleyball wouldn't be expected to be as great as young men training for collegiate level football. Who are your clients, and what type of activities do they engage in? The sad truth is that we live in a sue-happy world, and you don’t want your business in a position where you could be taken advantage of in the case of injury.
When in Doubt
Obtaining a waiver for your company is probably a good idea, even if after your business evaluation you feel there is a low-risk factor. One reason for erring on the side of safety is that obtaining or creating an athlete waiver isn't incredibly difficult. Getting some legal or professional assistance in constructing such a document that will hold up under the scrutiny of a court proceeding is advisable. And online sports registration platforms make it possible to include your waivers in your website and software.
Know who your clients are and carefully consider the activities supported by your company and the potential dangers involved with those activities. Weigh the risks, err on the side of caution and keep you, your employees and your company protected. Collecting waivers might seem like a hassle, but with online tools it’s easier than ever, and it could save your business if put in a vulnerable situation. Play smart, play safe and stay protected.