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How to write a legal waiver

Updated April 13, 2017

A waiver of liability clause is a provision in a legal document that shifts liability from one party to another. Under common law, each person is responsible for his own negligence. A waiver results in one person giving up the right to hold the other person liable for his fault. A waiver is a common tool used to shift the risk from the person providing the service to the participant. Waivers are used for variety of activities, including horseback riding, camps and school sports teams. Requirements for waivers vary according to each state.

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  1. Draft the title for the waiver: "Release and Waiver of Liability."

  2. Create a space for the date and the description of the activity. The participant will fill in the line for the date and the type of activity when the document is signed.

  3. Draft the waiver language. Include language similar to the following: "I hereby waive, assume any risk, and take full responsibility and waive any claims of personal injury, death or damage to personal property associated with [name of activity]. I understand that the activities are dangerous and involve a serious risk of injury, death and/or property damage." Check with state laws prior to creating the waiver. In general, the waiver provision should not be hidden in the document and the language should be clear and not ambiguous.

  4. Draft language that makes it clear that the participant is giving up legal rights. Since it should be clear that the participant is giving up rights, include language to this effect: "I have read this WAIVER AND RELEASE and fully understand its terms. I understand that I am giving up legal rights. I have signed this Agreement voluntarily and under my own free will."

  5. Create a signature line and a space for the participant to print his name.

  6. Tip

    It is effective to capitalise important language, such as "waiver and release." This shows that the language was not hidden in small print and that you tried to make it apparent to the signer.


    For the waiver to be valid, some states may require the inclusion of the types of risks and injuries related to participating in the specific activity. If a waiver clause is unclear or hides the waiver language in the fine print, a court may determine that the waiver is invalid.

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About the Author

Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.

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