MOD 028: Mr. Murphy Loves Your Cut-and-Paste Waiver

Merchants of Dirt Episode #28

Learn why waivers your first line of defense against personal injury lawsuits and remind you that it is your duty as a race promoter to avoid being negligent.

In This Episode

  • 0:01 – Welcome
  • 0:55 – Having a solid liability waiver is vital
  • 4:07 – Sponsor Spotlight –
  • 5:04 – Steps to a Good Waiver
  • 27:55 – Call to Action

Key Take Away #1

Having a solid liability waiver is vital: All off-road sports are inherently dangerous and involve clear risks, but so is not having a well-written liability waiver. Not only are waivers your first line of defense against personal injury lawsuits, but they remind you that, as a race promoter, it is your duty to avoid being negligent.

By making your racer’s sign a liability waiver, you require them to read and acknowledge that they assume the risk of injury that could result from a race. However, it also reminds you that a waiver only covers you to a point.

You should probably know the answer to this question long before you ever hold your first race.

Key Take Away #2

Steps to a Good Waiver: When you’re ready to start changing, start applying the techniques of:

#1 — Don’t make it up yourself
In classic liability waiver cases, a racer injured while participating in your off-road race will have a questionable liability claim due to their signing of a liability waiver. That is if your liability waiver is valid and enforceable. Don’t try to save a few bucks and leave yourself unprotected by trying to create a weak liability waiver yourself.

#2 — Don’t race without knowing your State’s law
Liability waivers in most States are a mixed bag of legal issues when it comes to enforcing them outright. In simple terms, a liability waiver does three things for both you and your racers:

  • It informs them that off-road racing is inherently dangerous and involve clear risks
  • It limits their right to sue you in the event of injury
  • It provides an assumption of risk defense that can be utilized by you in the event of a legal claim

#3 — Don’t be surprised when you get sued
Unfortunately, being sued is a part of being in the race promotion business. We all know that injuries are going to happen, and most are going to be self-inflicted. But regardless of the liability waiver, an injured racer’s signed, a few will still try to come after you for damages.

Study cited by Stites & Harbison stated that of the over four million extreme sports injuries reported between From 2000 to 2011. many of them showed that exculpatory clauses (e.g. liability waivers) were found to valid and enforceable under common law principles.

When the exculpatory clauses (e.g. liability waivers) violated public policy or the damage was the result of willful or wanton conduct on the part of the defendant, they were found to be not valid and unenforceable. In other words, when the injury is a result of the race promoter’s gross negligence or deliberate misconduct, the liability waiver did not provide any legal protection.

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Thank You for Listening

Thank you so much for listening to Merchants of Dirt Podcast. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to me @MerchantsofDirt on Twitter, by Email, or my Contact Form.

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Kyle Bondo
Kyle Bondo is a thinker, podcaster, author, and creative strategy dragon seeking to make a small dent in the universe. He is the founder of Reckoneer, host of the Merchants of Dirt and Get Lost Racing podcasts, and an avid mountain biker and adventure racer.
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