Retailers may require shoppers to sign liability waivers

Sign here first…A surge of retailers and commercial companies could enforce coronavirus waivers that visitors must sign before entering.

From boutiques to beauty salons to gyms, guests are being asked to sign official forms to confirm they are free of Covid-19 symptoms or to acknowledge the risk they may contact the disease whilst visiting their premises.

As cities like New York, London, Paris and Amsterdam ease out of lockdown, consumers will be eager to end months of isolation and start spending, perhaps shopping the summer sales to refresh their wardrobe after months of being at home.

Companies look to offload liabilities

But as a second wave of the virus seems likely to spread, some businesses are looking to offload liabilities where they can. This is in addition to implementing health and safety measures, such as disinfecting stations, already in place in most stores, and make wearing face masks mandatory.

Companies are using signs, forms and website postings as a shield against lawsuits, states Reuters, but the measures do not prevent people from seeking damages due to negligence, the same way someone might sue after falling on a slippery floor or getting sick from walls covered in lead paint, experts said.

Companies worry about their legal risks as they re-open, and employees returning to work may find themselves in a similar situation and be required to sign a liability waiver should they fall ill on the job.

In the U.S., many states allow prospective waivers of negligent conduct, however the general rule is that such waivers do not apply to gross negligence or to willful or intentional conduct. Thus, a return-to-work COVID-19 waiver would not be effective against intentional tort claims says employment and labour solicitors Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease LLP.

Lawyers say it would be tough to prove a business caused a customer’s illness, but concerns are so intense that a waiver may soon become the new normal writes the Insurance Journal.

As worker and customer safety remain the utmost priorities for most companies, working together in good faith and in good effort may keep the claims at bay.

Image: Closed via Flickr


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