A review of the legal requirement to issue clients a copy of a gym contract, which includes a waiver of liability agreement
Suppose you fail or neglect to issue a copy of a gym or health studio contract to your client. In that case, an injured victim may successfully challenge the validity of a signed and otherwise perfectly legal liability waiver.
So, when is a liability waiver enforceable in California?
In the state of California, a liability waiver is an enforceable subject to the fulfillment of specific legal and public policy requirements as follows:
- You should not design to exempt yourself from your own willful or unintentional negligence actions. According to Section 1668 of the California Civil Code, courts will hold you liable even if an injured person had signed a liability waiver if it determines that your actions amount to gross negligence.
- If an injury occurs in contravention of public policy requirements on health and safety. If a client suffers an injury due to you contravening public health and safety standards, the court will not uphold a signed waiver.
Courts in California will only enforce a release of liability waiver if you observe all other public policy requirements concerning the operation of your gym.
Liability Waivers and the California Health Studio Service Act
One such requirement is the California Health Studio Service Act, the primary legislation that guides contracts between health studios and their members.
According to the Act, a health studio service includes training, assistance, or instruction in physical culture, bodybuilding, figure development, exercising, and other similar activities. The Act requires that health studios offer their services on a membership basis through a contract. A release of liability agreement is part of the gym membership contract that clients are required to sign. Consider working with your attorney to ensure that the terms of the release accord to all relevant legal requirements.
Among the provisions of the Calfornia Health Studio Service Act is the requirement for gym owners to issue their patrons with a copy of the signed contract. Failure to comply with this
requirement renders the waiver unenforceable and exposes you to liability. The Civil Code section 1812.82 provides that every contract for health studio services, including the release of liability waivers, shall be in writing. The section proceeds to provide that facilities shall provide a patron with a copy of the signed contract physically or electronically at the time of signing.
The facility bears the responsibility to prove they gave a copy of the contract to the client. Therefore, it is essential to have administrative processes that document receipt of a signed copy of the waivers by the client.
How the Scenario Plays Out in Court
First, the court will take time to determine that you took all the reasonable standards of care to ensure the safety of your patrons. The court will also take time to ensure that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed the risk of the particular injury that occurred under the principle of assumption of risk.
Having satisfied the above, the plaintiff may raise an issue on the validity of the signed release based on other public policy requirements. At this point, the court will consider if the facility issued a copy of the signed waiver.
How LenzVU can Help Fulfill the Requirements of Civil Code Section 1812.82
LenzVU is a free digital waiver solution designed to help your facility fulfill legal requirements relevant to the structure and management of waiver of liability agreements. Within the context of the Civil Code Section 1812.82, LenzVU can:
- Send waiver forms to your client’s devices – LenzVU enables you to send waiver forms to your clients’ devices or email. Your clients can then access and sign the waiver document even before visiting.
- Secure archival of signed waivers – With LenzVU, your clients can receive a copy of the signed waiver form once they sign, at the click of a button. LenzVU then archives signed waivers in the original after the client signs. LenzVU appends a ‘Trust Badge’ on every archived state, meaning that none of the involved parties can access and edit archived documents.
- Eliminate paper and filing – LenzVU will enable you to store your signed waiver forms digitally. With a digital repository of the signed documents, you can effortlessly search the database and retrieve a client’s signed waiver form.
- Collect and analyze business analytics – How often do your customers return to your business? What are your business peak times? The LenzVU device lets you collect customer insights that you can use to design sales strategies and decisions concerning
the allocation of staff and other resources depending on the foot traffic to your health studio.
For more information on how LenzVU can help you comply with the California Health Studio Service legislation, please contact John Peters, our sales executive, by email at John@TributeKiosk.com or call 888-626-1355 option 1.