When you participate in an organized sporting event or adventure activity, you will usually be asked to sign a waiver of liability. Waivers are commonplace in these situations, and it is often accepted, if not expected, that you will need to “sign away your life” to participate in such an activity. In our new COVID-19 world, waivers of liability may pop up in places we have never seen them before, from restaurants and bars to hair salons and barbers.
We are currently in Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan, and many businesses that closed during the initial COVID-19 outbreak have reopened, or are in the process of reopening. In order to operate, businesses must meet their legal obligation to provide a safe work environment for their employees and follow the Provincial Health Officer’s Health and Safety Guidelines. To meet these obligations, businesses are developing workplace policies and implementing measures such as physical distancing, capacity limits, plexiglass barriers, and face coverings. However, even a business that takes every possible precaution cannot guarantee that a COVID-19 outbreak will not occur in connection with its operations.
It remains to be seen whether businesses will be held liable for customers contracting COVID-19. For example, can a customer sue their barber for contracting COVID-19 while having their hair cut? In principle, if the customer proves that they contracted COVID-19 as a result of the barber’s failure to meet the standard of care, the barber could be held liable in negligence. Further, business owners can also be held liable for their employees’ negligence relating to COVID-19 prevention.
In order to best protect themselves, businesses whose operations previously posed little risk of harm to their customer may want to have their customers sign a waiver of liability.
For businesses considering a waiver of liability, here are a few points to consider:
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY BEFORE SIGINING! THIS IS A RELEASE OF LIABILITY AND WAIVER OF CERTAIN LEGAL RIGHTS INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO SUE OR CLAIM COMPENSATION.
If your business is concerned about liability related to COVID-19, we would be happy to discuss the best way to protect your business.