Fact Finders: More businesses may add liability waivers. Do customers have to sign?

KOLD FACT FINDERS: Signing waivers before entering businesses

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As more business continue to reopen in Southern Arizona, customers could be asked to sign a liability waiver before heading inside.

Being required to sign a waiver or release at a gym, for a physical activity or even a medical procedure is normal practice. Now, it could be the new “normal” for much more.

“I think now what’s happening, though, are businesses, clearly and understandably, are concerned there are going to be all these lawsuits alleging the people contracted coronavirus at the business and they’re scared," said Marc Lamber, head of the Fennemore Craig personal injury department.

Lamber said a business may decide to require a signature on a waiver to reduce the risk of a liability lawsuit. A waiver, or a contractual assumption of the risk, could give the customer’s decision more responsibility while dining, shopping or doing other activities while we continue track the spread of the coronavirus.

“When you get a release or a waiver, if you are going to sign it, you need to do one thing first - you need to read it," said Lamber.

Lamber said a customer can ask for an adjustment if there is something he or she does not agree with in the waiver. He said he’s seen that happen before, but the business does have the right to refuse service if they feel necessary.

“You can elect not to sign it, but then you may not be permitted entry," said Lamber.

To enter into an enforceable contract in Arizona, you have to be 18-years-old. If a younger teenager signs a waiver at a business that now requires it and something happens, the court will question if the waiver is enforceable just on terms of age alone.

There will likely be lawsuits related to the coronavirus and waivers, so businesses need to be careful with what they include and what they expect to get out of them. Lamber said, in general, waivers or releases are hard to enforce in Arizona’s courts.

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