What does a personal liability release form have to consist of to be legal?

UPDATED: Aug 22, 2011

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What does a personal liability release form have to consist of to be legal?

I want to have a seasonal attraction and need an individual release form for anyone who attends. I was wondering what they had to consist of?

Asked on August 22, 2011 Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

They don't need any standard or formulaic language. What you want to do is to explain the risks (at least the principal or most significant ones) in the form, to make sure than when someone signs the form, he/she is doing so on an informed basis; to state that participants do (whatever it is) at their own risk and that this activity contains certain risks; and to have a line where, by signing, the participant acknowledges having read the release and agreed to its terms.

Note that these releases have limitations: while you can put adults on notice of the normal risks, your protection against children (who can't contract away liability the same way) is more limited; and to the extent you do not maintain the rides, course, field, equipment, etc. properly, or don't provide adequate instruction or safety equipment, or generally run the attraction in an unsafe way, you can still be sued. That is, you can only protect against the normal, irreducible risks of the activity.

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