Many organizations are stepping up their risk management in order to reduce their liability exposure, and insurance agents and brokers have seen their clients increasingly turned to liability waiver forms. These forms come in many shapes and sizes, but all have the objective of reducing an organization's exposure to liability claims.
Liability waivers have been used in the recreation business for many years, although some states have limited their usefulness. A recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision, which invalidated the use of liability waivers on public policy grounds by recreational operators, can be expected to lead to expanded exposure, increased insurance claims and higher insurance premiums for recreational facilities. A short summary of the decision can be found on the WEMED site (see here). The case involved an adult plaintiff who suffered a foot injury while snow tubing at Powder Ridge in Connecticut. The plaintiff had read and signed a waiver of liability, and brought a claim of negligence against the operator.
Other types of institutions are starting to use liability waiver forms. A recent article noted that a hospital had begun to use a waiver form in order to require mediation or binding arbitration for any claim for injury (see here). We have also noted hedge funds using liability forms for certain types of meetings, requiring an acknowledgment by participants that information provided is public and the hedge fund is permitted to trade upon it.
While liability waiver forms can be effective in reducing liability exposure for an organization, critics charge the forms eliminate plaintiff rights. In addition, liability waiver forms can be impractical in certain settings, and seem to be a poor substitute for bad law.
Specialty Insurance Expertise: Tennant Risk Services
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