Signing a liability waiver: can we make it more modern?
The previous post was about whether a "group" liability waiver would be valid for a trainer and the trainer's (adult) student to sign.
While group waivers are typically valid, they are generally considered to not be as strong as individual waivers. So what if you are concerned about the mountains of paper required in having a single liability paper for every single rider?
Try turning to technology.
Electronic Signatures to a contract are generally valid under the "Electronic Signatures under Global and National Commerce Act" (for less of a mouthful, it is called the E-Sign Act). What constitutes an electronic signature (e.g., can you just type your name?) is governed by the state-by-state based Uniform Electronic Transfers Act (UETA).
For the sake of this post, we will presume the signature is written onto a screen with the trainer's finger or a stylus, such as at the grocery store check out line, at Macy's, etc.
I found that there is a free app for the iPad called SIGNificant, and I think it is pretty amazing. You save a PDF of your contract or liability waiver to the app, give the iPad to the trainer to read the contract, ask the trainer if she has any questions, and if not- the trainer double clicks the place where she wants to sign, and signs with her finger! (I found a stylus to be better, but both work). The app then allows you to take a picture of the person who is signing (for proof), save the contract, and email it to the trainer, and back to yourself.
A liability waiver could also be available on your website or by email, and parents who cannot accompany their minor child could use the app to sign the waiver and email it back (a variation of printing, signing, and faxing it back).
The concerns with using electronic signatures are authenticity (if signed off site, can you verify that the signature wasn't forged), and the same variables as discussed in the last post for all waivers: sufficient time to review, a knowing and voluntary waiving of rights, bargaining power, and clarity of the dangers involved, in addition to the other factors listed.
It would be advisable to let the trainer or rider know that he or she can receive a hard-copy of the liability waiver if that is preferred over an electronic waiver.
Also, if you choose to use electronic waivers, be sure to save them to multiple sources, such as an external hard drive in addition to your email or iPad.
Is your barn up to date with technology (does the music in the barn play on Pandora, does your barn have a Facebook page, do you use an iPad)?
Would you feel as comfortable with signing an electronic waiver as a paper one?
Or, do you think technology should be left out of the barn- we do go to ride to "get away from it all" and "get off the grid" after all!