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Release Agreements Attorney for Your Business

It’s a simple fact—businesses both large and small need to protect themselves from risk. Risk can take the form of physical risk, information risk, privacy risk, contract risk, and more. One way to protect your business from risk—and the legal and financial liability arising from risk—is by using release agreements. Release agreements are used both proactively and as part of dispute settlements. Our release agreement lawyers at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle help Chicago area business owners draft, implement, and apply effective release agreements to avoid and counter potential risks and ultimately safeguard business interests.

Insulating Your Chicago Business Through the Smart Use of Release Agreements

A release agreement is a contract that frees an individual or business from responsibility for damages that may arise from a specified activity, such as driving a vehicle, taking and using photos, sharing information, employee terminations, resolution of customer complaints and so on. The contract is an agreement between the person who grants the release, such as a customer or employee, and the “releasee” who is freed from liability. A release agreement applies only to civil damage claims for monetary compensation, not criminal activity and criminal responsibility. Generally, a release agreement waives all present and future legal claims associated with the specified activity, so both the releasor and releasee should be clear on the scope of potential risks before formalizing the agreement.

Specific types of release agreements frequently used by Chicago businesses and other organizations include:

  • Activity Release of Liability
  • Car Accident Release of Liability
  • General Liability Waiver
  • Location/Event Release
  • Media Release (covers video and photo)
  • Medical Record Information Release (HIPAA)
  • Personal/Model Release
  • Photo or other copyright Release
  • Real Estate Lien Release
  • Social Security Release of Information
  • Release of liability in connection with termination of employment
  • Release of liability in connection with disposition of a dispute or cancellation or modification of an agreement with a customer or vendor

Well-drafted, thorough, release agreements can go far to protect your business from legal claims—indeed, many people won’t even explore their legal options if they’ve signed a liability waiver. But, it’s important to recognize that release agreements do not provide absolute protection. Some claims can’t be released by law, such as claims available under workers compensation laws, or for criminal acts. Other claims, such as deliberate acts that cause an injury or bad faith actions, won’t typically be covered by a release. In some states, a release won’t be effective against claims that are unknown at the time of the release. Minors whose parents sign releases can generally still raise a claim themselves if they do so promptly. Releases are usually targeted at the effects of negligent actions.

Signing a release has a chilling effect on individuals raising claims. Far fewer people will assert a claim if a release has been signed, particularly if they had a clear understanding of the release and the risks when they signed it. However, if an individual pursues legal action despite signing a release agreement, courts often use a reasonableness standard to determine whether the release is intended to cover the claim and whether the release is reasonable under the circumstances. If your agreement is found to be unreasonable, you may still be held responsible for damages, for example for bad faith actions or for concealing information; or for damages that weren’t reasonably foreseeable when the release was signed. Our business law attorneys can ensure your release agreements are as strong and legally sound as possible. We can help to draft your release agreements clearly so that they are as effective as possible.

Talk to an Experienced Illinois Business Law Attorney about Release Agreements

For more information about using agreements to protect your business from risk, please contact a release agreements attorney at MacDonald, Lee & Senechalle. With offices in Hoffman Estates and Des Plaines, we represent businesses and business owners throughout the Chicago area and northern Illinois.

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