The practice of yoga is such a peaceful discipline that it is natural for yoga instructors not to think about the liability of their teaching or their studio. The unfortunate reality of our litigious society is that all yoga studios, fitness facilities and instructors need to do everything that they can to protect themselves from liability claims.
A well-written liability waiver is the single best tool a yoga studio owner has to manage risk.
A liability waiver is intended to release the studio from liability for injury resulting from ordinary negligence. Of course, a waiver does not protect a studio from gross negligence, reckless conduct or intentional acts. So, don’t rely just on a liability waiver to protect your yoga business from claims, even if it is a good waiver and you live in a state with favorable waiver laws. You must take other steps too, such as carrying an appropriate level of liability insurance, taking all possible steps to protect your students, and preforming upkeep and maintenance throughout the year in your studio.
What makes a well-written liability waiver?
Obtain the assistance of an expert to help you develop a waiver. Most likely, this will be an attorney with experience in the liability waiver laws of your state and preferably one who is also familiar with the practice of yoga and your studio. Although good cost-saving resources are available to help studio owners write their own waivers, it is imperative that an experienced attorney review and edit the waiver before it is put into use in your studio.
In addition, consider these things:
- Use a stand-alone waiver document separate from your membership or participation agreement. These have been proven to stand up better in court. Write the waiver document so it is as specific as possible to your studio and the activities students will engage in at your studio.
- The language of the waiver can make this a positive document to review with your students. You can explain how their safety is of the utmost importance to your studio, explain the inherent risks of participation in yoga and close by requiring their signature on the release of liability.
- Another common question relates to waivers for children and minors. A parent must sign the waiver for a minor. Although waivers for minors rarely hold up in court in most states, it still is imperative to obtain one for minor participants in all activities and if you offer child care at your studio.
State laws determine how effective a waiver may be in court, but it is critical for yoga studios to always have a well-written waiver in every state. Well written waivers are more than worth the money spent to create them if they save your studio from even one claim – now or in the future. This peace of mind can allow you to focus on growing your yoga business.