I'm a ACE certified trainer in Richmond, Virginia. I have liability insurance through Hoffman Insurance Services. Does anyone know if liability waivers would provide any extra protection for me in Virginia? What about health history forms? I can't afford an attorney to clarify but from my understanding the liability forms have no legal importance in Virginia and would only serve as a professional courtesy to warn clients of potential risk.
it is my understanding that a liability waiver or a health history form does not protect you anywhere if you demonstrate gross negligence. Where I am careful is to get a physician's approval. The form I use provides space for the MD to write about modifications and other considerations with regard to the exercise programming. I would also advise you to keep good records of what you do with your clients.
If you apply what you have learned as part of your certification and stay within the scope of practice, you should not have to worry. It is my understanding that lawsuits against personal trainers are few and far between.
As far as legal advice is concerned: see whether you can call a government agency. They have staff that is responsible for explaining to people how laws apply. With your specific question, I would start with the Chamber of Commerce and then wing my way to the person who can give me an answer.
In VA if you business is registered, you can also get a lot of help and information from the business buruea. They have a great website. When I lived there, I found that calling or emailing them usually got me an answer within a week.
Hope this Helps!
Your concerns are legitimate! I don't have anything to add onto what Karin and Jocelyn have said other than to tell you that a general rule of thumb is "the more paperwork, the better." ACE does have some excellent templates for you to go off of. I know that lawyers can be expensive, but they are worth it when it comes to your livelihood. You should find a law firm that offers free consultations for the type of paperwork that you need to have done. You might be surprised at how cheaply you can get some quality legal documents drawn up.
These contracts are actually legally binding to an extent (this type of law is called tort law), but they will not protect you in any way from gross negligence, like Karin said.
Check on the ACE website if you haven't already, and use their career resources feature when you login. It never hurts to read and re-read the last couple of chapters in the current ACE Personal Trainer manual.
TRY TRY TRY to get picked up a local gym as an independent contractor. You won't have to worry so much about these forms as they'll already have some drawn up for you that you can use.
As far as health history goes, you can NEVER have too much information on a client when it comes to health and lifestyle. Every bit helps you when designing programs and "getting into your clients' heads." Just make sure you don't run a client off with a mountain of paperwork. =) haha
Your chances of getting sued are most likely slim to none if you are caring about your clients and you do your best to keep their safety as your top priority!
VERY GOOD QUESTIONS.
In order to understand this answer you would have to consult without previous court rulings on this topic to understand if waivers are allowed (As this varies from state to state).
Virginia is one of the states that does not allow waivers. Therefore, they are not enforceable documents in court.
Therefore strict level of risk management should be practiced without your setting as well as have good insurance.
Fuel the movement,