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What Is a General Liability Waiver?

A child might not be able to go on a class field trip if a parent hasn't signed a waiver.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2014
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A general liability waiver is a form an organization may use to protect itself from lawsuits. An organization may have an individual sign this form, which states that the organization is not responsible for injuries, damage, or loss suffered as the result of the activities he participates in with the organization. The form usually also states that the signer of the form fully understands the risks inherent in participating in the activity. Often, this type of waiver also contains basic information about medical procedures the organization may use in the event of an emergency.

In many cases, organizations that take people on trips, regardless of whether they are long or short, require each participant to sign a general liability waiver. Likewise, some training programs may have their students sign such a form if there are risks involved in the training. Additionally, the owners of some types of rides and amusements may require thrill seekers to sign this type of form before the ride begins. These forms may even be presented to sports team members before they are allowed to start playing games, or in some cases, even before they are permitted to start practicing with the group.

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An individual who is presented with a general liability waiver may question whether or not he has any choice in the matter. For example, he may want to go on a bus trip but retain his rights in the event that the organization somehow contributes to an injury or loss. While some organizations may make the signing of these forms voluntary, most of them make signing mandatory for participation. A rock-climbing school, for instance, may only allow students to attend class if they have signed this type of form. Likewise, a child may not be allowed to attend his class field trip if his parent hasn't signed a waiver.

The ultimate protection an organization can expect from a general liability waiver may depend on the laws in his particular jurisdiction. In some places, if such a form has been signed on behalf of a child, a court may have the authority to overrule it. If the form wasn't executed properly or the signer can convince a court that he didn't understand the implications of what he was signing, a judge may invalidate the waiver. Likewise, many court systems have laws in place that protect the signer in the event that an injury, loss, some type of damage occurs because someone in an organization acts negligently or is guilty of misconduct. In such a case, the organization may still be liable, even though it has received a signed general waiver of liability.

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