Holding an event–waivers and releases

“I am going to plan and host a fundraiser for our child’s youth group.  We plan to have obstacle courses with adults on tricycles and other fun and crazy activities.  Should I have people sign a waiver?”

This was a real question and I’m posting it here because a lot of parents are holding events to raise money to benefit their kids’ activities.  Some activities are funded by the school, others are not and rely upon parents raising money to keep the activity going.

Waivers and releases are definitely necessary if you are holding an event where you invite people to an event where there is a risk of harm.  There is a general belief that a waiver-release provides little protection against a lawsuit by an injured party–true in some jurisdictions.  Ohio, however, has case law providing language that, if contained in the waiver-release, provides fairly strong protection.

Who does the release cover–the participant only?  (Not recommended.)  What activities are covered?  Who signs the document?  What if the participant is a minor?

Downloading a general waiver-release from a Google search might offer little protection in Ohio.  This is where contacting an attorney in your state to provide you with a state-specific document with the proper language is the best advice you can receive.

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