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Participation Waivers – Important Clauses and Free Templates

Race participation waiver

Running an event or activity that involves risk without having guests sign a participation waiver is a huge mistake.

There are plenty of times where an injured party took a business to court, only to have the case dismissed due to the waiver they had signed.

A participation waiver, or consent form, is a legally-binding document put in place to protect you and your organization. When the participant or their parent sign the document, they are stating that they fully acknowledge the risks involved, and therefore can not file frivolous lawsuits in case of damages or injury.

Participation Waivers Are Required For:

  • Fitness activities
  • Participation in sporting events and races
  • Being filmed or photographed
  • Spas and massages
  • Adventure activities
  • Intense experiences (Haunted House, Escape Room etc.)
  • Special events
  • School field trips

Read on to learn more about the legality surrounding participation waivers and find some free templates to help you get started.

How Do Participation Waivers Protect Your Organization?

Waivers and liability insurance are the two pillars of legal protection in the event of injury during activity. Many insurance policies will either outright require you to collect participation waivers, or give you a reduced rate on your premiums.

The amount of detail required in your participation form will vary depending on the type of organization and where you and the activity are located. It is always recommended that you consult with a lawyer when designing your waiver forms to ensure they will be enforceable in your country/state/province.

In general, participation waivers will include the following three important clauses:

  • An exculpatory clause: waives the right to sue for injuries resulting from ordinary negligence.
  • An indemnity clause: transfers responsibility for liability due to injury or damage from the business to the person signing the contract. 
  • An assumption of risk clause: the person signing the contract acknowledges the risk of injury inherent to the activity. 

These clauses need to be carefully worded to suit your activity and your business.

When waivers won’t protect your organization

Lawsuits against organizations are predicated on negligence. Waivers will protect against ordinary negligence but are not rock-solid against gross negligence.

Ordinary negligence is defined as the ordinary actions that any thinking person would take to limit harm. 

Gross negligence is a wanton disregard for the safety of others. Unlike ordinary negligence, which can be prevented by taking simple actions, gross negligence is extreme carelessness.

Be sure to also read: How to Ensure Your Liability Waiver is Enforceable

Participation Waiver and Release Form Templates

To get a basis for your waiver, download one of the following participation waiver form templates. As mentioned above, we highly recommend that you don’t use these forms verbatim, but consult with a lawyer to make sure the wording is appropriate for your organization and activity.

Release of Liability Waiver Templates (Hold Harmless Agreements)

Printable Contracts

Rocket Lawyer

Sample Templates

Template.net

Photography and Video Waivers (Model Release Forms)

Legal Templates

Southeastern Louisiana University

Studio Binder

Event Waivers

PandaDoc

Public Risk Management Association

For more waivers specific to various industries including events, fitness, personal training, spas, photographers, venues, rentals, sports, and adventure activities – be sure to view our list of the best free waiver and assumption of risk templates.

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