There is sometimes a temptation to incorporate releases and waivers into the contracting process when restorers are faced with either high demand or extenuating circumstances, including natural disasters.
Releases came to the forefront of the national restoration conversation this year when the polar vortex caused widespread unexpected damage, primarily from pipe breaks, in the great state of Texas. Widespread power outages, frozen water supply systems and crippled infrastructure wreaked havoc across wide swaths of the country. The event badly overtaxed restoration resources, and restorers with the best of intentions found themselves in a quandary as to how to comply with standards of care when insufficient equipment and labor were available. What was the restorer to do when 20 customers needed help but there was only enough equipment available for ten? Do you cut corners to help as many people as possible and face the risk of claims that you breached the standard of care…or do you just take ten of the jobs, strictly comply with published industry standards, and let the other ten suffer?
Overall, releases and waivers should be used infrequently and only when they can be executed with precision and clarity. It may be wise to resist the urge to have a release signed by your customer at the outset of a restoration project.
In order to be enforceable, waivers must be clear, unambiguous, and fairly bargained for between the parties. Customers must be able to understand the risks associated with the services being provided as well as exactly which rights they are waiving under the agreement.
Learn more by reading the full C&R article: How To Save Your Bacon With A Strong Release of Liability.
Your successes in preventing and defending litigation depends largely on the strength of your contracts and the quality of your documentation. For more, check out Book on Restoration Collections.