HOUSTON - If you work out in a gym, get your hair cut in a salon, or even attend President Trump's Tulsa rally this weekend, you may be asked to sign a liability waiver should you catch COVID-19 while there.
"Businesses obviously want to protect their financial interest," said employment attorney Kevin Troutman with the Fisher Phillips law firm in Houston.
Southern Methodist University outside Dallas is asking student-athletes to sign a waiver. It states the student cannot participate in voluntary workouts if they don't sign, but Athletic Director Rick Hart said in a statement it does not impact their eligibility or scholarships.
With more organizations and businesses asking people to sign COVID-19 liability waivers, we asked attorneys whether you're signing away your rights should you become sick.
If your place of employment asks you to sign a waiver as an employee, employment lawyers say you're still likely protected by OSHA regulations and Workers Compensation.
"Workers can expect to have Workers Comp coverage, or if the employer is a non-subscriber, then they can expect to have a claim in court or arbitration," said attorney Ross Williams with Bell Nunnally Attorneys and Counselors in Dallas.
But any employee or customer who files a claim against a business has the burden of proving that the business is the location where they caught the virus.
"One of the challenges for the individual who's making a claim is to prove where did they contract it. And that's going to be a challenge," said Troutman.
If you sign a waiver as a customer of a business, attorneys say you may give up your right to sue for simple negligence but not for gross negligence.
"An example of gross negligence, the standard is that the business knew of a risk, an actual risk that was posed to the customers, and just didn't care whethter or not the customer was injured or contracted the virus," explained Williams.
Attorneys say rather than scaring employees or customers with waivers, their advice is to create a safe space for everyone following CDC and social distancing guidelines.
"I would not advise an employer to ask an employee to sign one of these waivers," said Troutman. "Instead, I would focus on maintaining a safe workplace."
Meanwhile, colleges and businesses are asking Congress to pass a law to shield them from COVID-19 lawsuits.