An increasing number of sports organizations in the business of catering to school field trips (horseback riding, wall climbing, etc.) are requiring parents to sign waiver forms such as the attached sample. It is very important that parents understand:
- The legal effect of signing such a form;
- That signing is not a Division requirement;
- That the Division does not encourage parents to sign it; and
- That Division insurance does not protect students, except to the extent that the District is legally responsible for any injury that occurs.
It is important that all of your staff be aware of these matters. If parents sign a waiver, and they can properly claim that Division personnel have encouraged them to do so, or given them assurances that have induced them to sign the form, it is possible that the Division could become liable for student injury, even when the injury is caused by the negligence of the sports organization.
In addition to advising staff, it is also important to deal with these matters in the consent form provided to parents by your school. I suggest adding the following to those forms:
A field trip is planned for (explain activities). It will take place on _____________to________________, 20_. There are certain important matters for you to understand prior to consenting to your child's participation. The company conducting the (activity) requires the parents of all participants to sign the attached "Indemnity and Release of Liability" (or whatever it is called). There are three very important things you need to fully understand about this document:
- It requires you to release the company from legal responsibility to your child in the event of damage to your child's property, or injury or death of your child, even if the company negligently causes the damage, injury or death;
- It requires you to pay the company all of its costs and expenses if your child is injured or killed and you sue the company (if the document contains such a clause);
- It requires you to assume all risks and responsibilities for anything that may happen to the student or student’s property during the (rafting) activity (if the document contains such a clause).
The Division also wants you to understand the following:
- The signing of the “Indemnity and Release of Liability” (or whatever it is called) is a requirement of the company, NOT of the Division .
The Division does NOT encourage you to sign it.
Whether or not you sign it is your decision alone to make.
- The Division maintains insurance which would cover your child if an accident were caused by the negligence of the Division or its staff.
Please consider all of the contents of this letter carefully before you decide whether to allow your child to participate in this field trip.