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Holistic Waivers

If you are a Yoga Teacher, workshop leader, therapist or event organizer, you probably know the importance of having people sign a Waiver.  If someone is injured or claims injury, they can sue you.  Even if you win, it will probably be very expensive for you, and it's just not fun.

My favorite Waiver was one that I signed in 1988.  To celebrate my graduation from law school in Seattle, I gave myself a gift of a tandem skydive.  On the morning of the event, five of us arrived at a small hangar in the country, with a volkswagen-sized plane waiting inside.

Before we could begin, they handed us their Waiver and Assumption of Risk, and it began with these words:

"Jumping out of a flying airplane is a very stupid thing to do."

It then went on with multiple examples of what could happen to us - people fall on electrical wires or barbed-wire fences, into trees or rivers.  They break their arms, hands, legs, backs, necks and heads.  They become paralyzed, permanently injured, experience extreme pain or die.

You get the picture.  If anyone was injured and then sued, a jury would probably laugh at them.  We had clearly "assumed the risk" with fully informed consent.

So when I help someone with a waiver, I begin with exploring what are the risks of their particular practice, event or teaching.  Some waivers can be fairly standardized, such as that for a yoga teacher - you would list strains, sprains, broken bones, concussions, or even a stroke.

I also like to use a waiver to educate people about the risks so they can be prepared.  One of my clients took children on nature hikes.  We listed falls, sprains, strains, broken bones, and also snakes and falling down hills or cliffs or into rivers.  This was designed to help people be aware of these risks and take more care.  In this waiver, we required that parents provide proof of insurance before their child could go on a hike.  With a minor, the parent HAS to sign on behalf of the child.

For a yoga or other exercise class, you can use the Waiver to educate participants.  For example: "Don't try to look like the teacher or stretch as far as she does.  Pay attention to your body and your comfort level.  Remember, you are responsible for your health and safety here, as the teacher cannot know your abilities, experiences, or injuries.  If you do have an injury or weak area, please inform the teacher."

Even if you find a waiver on the internet and it looks "legal," read it with the above in mind.  Also realize that some non-lawyers post documents online, and they are not legally sufficient.

A waiver is truly a place where "A stitch in time saves $9,000, or $90,000."  They are fairly easy to create (if you know what you are doing or have a professional help you).  

What makes my Waivers "holistic" is that they are created with compassion, with everyone's interests in mind.  If someone knows and agrees that they are responsible for their own health, then they can obtain insurance, or take precautions against the risks that you have informed them about.  It also allows you to do what you love, and not have to be responsible for everyone else.

Disclaimer:  The above is for general informational purposes, and does not constitute legal advice, which will be different for each situation.  Your reading this information does not create an attorney/client relationship between us.  If you wish to have a Waiver, please consult an attorney.