Hold-Harmless Agreements and Liability Waivers

Hold-Harmless Agreements and Liability Waivers

One way to minimize risk is by asking participants to sign waivers or hold-harmless agreements to absolve the organization and its officers from any responsibility for injury that may result from participating in the activity. Waivers do not eliminate the risk of being sued, but it shows that participants have been warned of possible risks associated with a given activity. As long as the activity was voluntary for participants, the waiver shows that the organization has given individuals enough information to make an informed decision about their participation. The waiver will not prevent a person from suing the organization and its advisor and members, but will discourage it since the decision to participate was his or her own. In addition, a waiver may release the organization and its officers from liability.

Assistance from the UWM Office of Legal Affairs
The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) provides legal advice to University employees but not to registered student organizations, as they are not official University units. Since advisors are University employees, you may call OLA (229-4278) if you have particular questions about your potential for liability. If a student organization has general legal questions about its operations or a particular event, it is encouraged to retain outside legal counsel. Students can contact the University Legal Clinic at 229-4140 or obtain a referral through the Milwaukee Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service at 274-1901.

Based on your status as a University employee, you may be entitled to representation by OLA or the Attorney General’s Office if you are sued for actions taken within the scope of your University employment (See State Liability section above to see if this applies to you). For that reason, you should contact OLA immediately if you are served with legal papers related to your role as an advisor.


Additional Information