COVID-19 Waivers

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COVID-19 waivers: have you been asked to sign one yet?

You know, those forms you’re asked–or should I say, forced–to sign in a dentist’s office, a hair salon, or a school, or before your kid is allowed to play soccer or baseball?

It’s the form that says if he or she contracts COVID-19, you can’t sue.

Often, we have only seconds to make sense of all the legalese that riddles these forms and decide whether or not to sign them.

So let’s discuss COVID-19 waivers and what rights you actually do have.

For one thing, these releases, like general non-COVID releases that have been around forever, do NOT provide businesses with blanket immunity from lawsuits.

Plus, in a lot of states, you have to physically sign a release if a business expects it to be enforceable.

For instance, let’s say you walk into a store and there’s a COVID release posted on the wall or the door; those likely won’t count.

How about if someone else besides you (say, your grandma) contracts COVID-19? The release you signed likely wouldn’t apply to her. Why? Because she didn’t sign it.

How about when someone makes your kid sign a COVID-19 waiver? Simply put, that one doesn’t count. Why? Because minors lack the capacity to contract, so their contracts are voidable.

So here’s the deal: We’re in a once-in-a-century pandemic, and our laws simply aren’t equipped to answer all of the questions that people are asking.

But still, based on traditional legal themes, we can make some observations:

• If you think you got sick at a restaurant or salon, you might still be able to sue if you think you can prove that they failed to follow CDC guidelines.
• If you think you got sick at work, you’re probably covered by Workers Comp laws and your boss cannot make you sign something that says you’re not.

Think about it this way: if a business is complying with all CDC guidelines, it shouldn’t make you sign a waiver in the first place.

But as we’ve seen, we can’t count on that. So if you did sign one and you think you can trace your sickness back to the business that made you sign it, you actually might still have a case.

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