Ask the Experts: Injury Waivers

How do injury waivers work? Did you ask a lawyer or insurance agent for help?

A signed injury waiver releases you from being held liable if a student is hurt as a result of normal, typical activity. For example, if a student sprains an ankle as a result of a leap being taught, your business would likely not be held liable for his or her ankle sprain. The waiver’s wording should describe the risks associated with participation in your dance program. You may also want to include wording that allows you temporary authority to seek medical emergency treatment for your students, including minors.

Since waiver law is specific to each state, structure and content may vary, and laws can (and often do) change frequently. We recommend you have your attorney review waivers annually.

 

For your waiver to be considered valid, it must be signed and dated by both parties. Digital signatures or a click-to-agree box are acceptable under the digital signatures act. Be sure you have a way to show proof of acceptance and can retrieve documentation.

Most important, know that a release of liability does not replace insurance or keep you immune from a potential lawsuit. If an injury occurs because you, your employees or your business were found to be negligent, you could be liable. If a ballet barre is not properly attached to a wall, for instance, and it falls off and injures a student, it is likely that your business is liable—regardless of what was signed.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of DanceStudioOwner.com.

Photo by B Hansen Photography, courtesy of Suzanne Blake Gerety

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