As the economy reopens following the phased relaxation of the lockdown order initially enforced to slow the spread of coronavirus, some businesses now require their employees and customers to sign Covid-19 Liability Waivers before returning to premises where in-person contacts are inevitable. In case you or someone you know has been asked to sign one, this post explains everything you need to know about Covid-19 Liability Waiver and what you should know before signing one.
What are Covid-19 Liability Waivers?
- Waivers, generally are a legally binding provision where one party in a contract agrees to voluntarily relinquish or forfeit their right or claim so that the other party will not be held liable for any harm or injury. Covid-19 liability waiver, in particular, is a way for a business to establish that you acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present.
- The main purpose of asking people to sign a waiver is to protect the business, campaign organization or government against potential lawsuits for injuries or harm in case someone eventually contracts the virus. The waiver provides proof that an individual acknowledged and accepted whatever risk of any harm that may occur.
One popular news of Covid-19 liability waiver that recently caught the attention of the public was prior to the Trump Tulsa rally where attendees were required to waiver the right to sue the Trump campaign, the rally site, and any employees, or volunteers for the harm that may occur. This step was taken acknowledging the risk of bringing thousands of people together in an enclosed place amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Who May be Required to Sign a Waiver?
While deliberations over the legality and permissible scope of coronavirus liability waivers are still being addressed by the Congress and law experts, here are some examples of groups of people that may be required to sign waivers either by service providers or employers:
Customers at businesses like salons and grocery stores
- Employees of various businesses or companies
- College Students
- People that use public swimming pools
- Passengers using local flight
What You Should Know Before Signing Covid-19 Liability Waiver
- Details of liability waivers vary from one business or organization to another. Before signing any waiver, it is important you understand what it entails. You can get in touch with an experienced tort lawyer to know your options and risks if you observe any grey area before signing a waiver.
- It is important to also know that enforceability of liability waivers vary by state. That is, waivers are a matter of state law with no single federal law governing it. Some states approach waivers with a “freedom of contract” stance. This is based on the notion that individuals should have the right to agree to whatever they feel is right for them. You can conduct additional online research to know the stance of your state on the matter.
If you have not been asked to sign a coronavirus waiver yet, there’s likelihood that you may have to make a choice sooner or later whether or not to sign it. Your choice will then depend on how essential the product or service is being offered. If it’s your employer demanding you to sign a waiver, then you may have little or no choice than to sign it. But you also have to consider if reasonable precautions are in place to mitigate the risk of transmission of the virus.
Can You Still File A Personal Injury Lawsuit After Signing a Waiver?
- The answer actually depends on a number of factors. Although one main reason why any business or organization would demand that you sign a waiver is to shield them from liability in the event of subsequent harm or injury, it doesn’t however mean that you cannot sue that business for wrongdoing. One of the basic limits the courts impose on liability waivers is that the waiver must be consistent with public policy. That is, courts may refuse to enforce a waiver when the conduct was egregious in cases of intentional harm or gross negligence.
Liability waivers cannot be a justification for negligence. Courts will generally upturn a waiver if it is considered too one-sided or harmful to the public. Instead of compelling employees and customers to sign a waiver, what any serious business should prioritize is putting in place reasonable precautionary measures to protect people from contracting the virus. Measures such as social distancing, wearing of masks, and the compulsory use of hand sanitizer should be strictly enforced.
In the meantime, you should expect more requests to waivers as business and public places are gradually reopening. If you don’t have to sign it, then it’s important you decline. However, you may have little or no choice but to sign in cases of employment or essential service. For legal assistance about your options and rights, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.