A release, or liability waiver, is a document by which a person or entity seeks to absolve itself of liability for certain acts when allowing another person or entity to participate in an activity overseen or offered by it or which takes place on its premises. UWM seeks to have parties sign releases under certain circumstances. Most often, this occurs when a person seeks to participate in a high-risk activity that is not central to the University’s core educational mission or if the person seeking to participate in an activity is not already a University community member (i.e., student, faculty, or staff). In addition, if a third party uses the University’s facilities for a private program, the University may seek to insulate itself from liability since it is not running that private program.
The leading case on waivers in Wisconsin is Atkins v. Swimwest Family Fitness Center, 277 Wis. 2d 303, 691 N.W.2d 334 (2005). This case sets forth several specific requirements in order for a waiver to be enforced in Wisconsin, which include the scope of the agreement, notice of the specific risks, an opportunity to bargain, and others. Since the law on waivers in Wisconsin is complex, you should contact Legal Affairs or Risk Management if you are unsure whether you should use a waiver and/or to obtain help drafting a waiver for the particular circumstances.
If you are sponsoring a potentially risky or dangerous event and are unsure whether you need additional insurance, contact Risk Management.