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What is a Legal Waiver?

a document for legal liability

Contracts, Waivers, and Limited Liability

Most business owners quickly learn the importance of using a contract to outline and govern their affairs. Whether you are conducting business with a friend or another small business, a contract eliminates a lot of potential confusion and limits liability for both parties. Contracts, of course, need to be fair and reasonable, and they should have some sort of trade (or consideration) to be considered effective and legally binding.

Can you write your contract on your own? ABSOLUTELY. With relevant research, adequate contract templates as a starting point, and maybe a quick legal consultation with a lawyer for good measure, some can manage writing a contract on their own. Whether you choose to go the DIY route or hire a licensed attorney, please consider the following.

Navigating the world of contracts is all about high-level reading comprehension and the ability to translate the terms for real understanding. It is also about anticipating creative scenarios or let's face it - the worst-case scenario and knowing how to include language that creates a remedy for those situations or some sort of conclusions. Because contracts are considered state law, certain provisions or legal concepts are set by your state or the state where you conduct business. It's important to know relevant state law or hire an attorney for these cases.


As a small business owner, safeguarding your business against potential risks and liabilities is so important. One powerful tool in your risk management kit is the waiver. A waiver is a legal document that releases one party from liability for certain actions or events. By signing a waiver, individuals acknowledge and accept the risks associated with participating in an activity or using a service provided by your business. Essentially, it's a preemptive measure to protect your business from legal claims should an accident or dispute arise.

Why Are Waivers Important for Small Businesses?

For small business owners, the importance of waivers cannot be overstated. They serve as a crucial line of defense against potential lawsuits that could threaten the financial stability and reputation of your enterprise. Whether you operate a fitness studio, offer recreational activities, or provide professional services, incorporating waivers into your business practices can help reduce the inherent risks associated with your operations.

Common Examples of When to Include a Waiver

  1. Fitness Centers and Gyms: Injuries are an unfortunate reality in the fitness industry. A well-crafted waiver can protect your gym or fitness center from liability in case a member sustains an injury while using your facilities or participating in classes.
  2. Outdoor Adventure Companies: From whitewater rafting to zip-lining, outdoor adventure businesses often entail inherent risks. A comprehensive waiver can shield your company from liability if participants are injured during these high-adrenaline activities.
  3. Event Planning Services: If you provide event planning services, including weddings or corporate functions, incorporating a waiver into your contracts can protect your business from legal claims arising from unforeseen circumstances or dissatisfaction with the event.
  4. Consulting and Professional Services: Consultants and professionals in various fields, such as legal, financial, or marketing, can benefit from waivers to limit their liability in case clients are dissatisfied with the results of their services.

Drafting an Effective Waiver

While waivers are valuable tools for risk management, their effectiveness relies on their clarity, specificity, and enforceability. When drafting a waiver for your small business, it's essential to consult with a qualified legal professional to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Additionally, tailor the language of the waiver to the specific risks associated with your business operations to maximize its protective effect. Waivers can be included in contracts or stand alone as their own separate agreement. The length of the document will depend on the nature of the event or circumstances and all of the associated risks.

Sample Waivers

Legal Blog: "This blog is for legal education purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship between readers and this firm. By reading this document, you understand the nature and purpose of this article. Please conduct your own research and speak to a legal professional to navigate the specifics of your potential legal concerns and questions."

Wellness Coaching Consultation: "By scheduling your consultation with XYZ Coaching you understand that Coach is not a medical professional and is not licensed or certified to give medical advice. If you have a medical emergency or concern please contact 911 and/or your primary healthcare provider. Coach is not a therapist but will provide you with health-related support and tools to guide your wellness journey. Any use of medications, herbs, or supplements should be discussed with your trusted healthcare providers and by taking such items you assume any risk that may arise as a result."

Legal Liabilities

Remember, waivers are important and can be an extremely protective measure but their enforceability will depend on your state's laws. Be clear and make sure the notice is prominent, clear, and signed or acknowledged by the other party. By clearly outlining the risks and responsibilities involved, you can mitigate the threat of lawsuits and protect the future success of your small business.

Prevention is always better than cure and generally cheaper as well!

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Written by: Olamide Michelle