In short, a consent form is a document by which you ask for permission to perform an activity. Or ask a person to participate in an event. If the actions you will take involve risks, it is extremely important to ask the participants for written consent.
But, even if there’s no risk involved, having written consent is the safest option. Our customizable consent form template allows you to tailor it to the situation, so you can always cover your legal bases. Having a consent form on hand is simple, but it goes a long way in building trust with your audience.
What Are Consent Forms Used For?
Sometimes, you are legally obligated to get written consent from participants. For example, you should always give out a medical consent form to participants of medical research or to patients undergoing medical treatment. But consent forms are not only limited to health care. They are common in business, education, and even in event planning.
For instance, you may need consent if you want to perform regular alcohol or drug tests on your employees. Depending on your local laws, these tests may be mandatory or voluntary. Regardless, getting consent is your best bet.
If you are a landlord, you can ask for consent to do a background check on a potential tenant. If you work as a photographer at an event and want to use the photos for commercial purposes, you should also ask for consent.
In essence, a consent form takes many shapes and forms and is used in all walks of life. Sometimes, you’re legally obligated to get written consent. Other times, it’s simply a precaution. In any case, it’s probably best to ask for written consent so that you can’t be held liable.
What to Include In a Consent Form?
The specific content of your consent form will vary based on what you are asking the participants to consent to. But it should always include three sections: a description of the activity or event, the liability waiver, and personal identifying information of the consenting party.
A Description of What They Are Consenting To
Your first sections should include a description of the activities and the potential risks involved. If you are asking the participants to consent to specific rules and regulations, you should also explain them. Or, if the description would make the consent form too long, have a clear reference to where they can read them in full.
The bottom line is that the participants need to give informed consent. That means they should have all of the information required to make an informed choice. Whether they will read it or not is not up to you. But you need to do your part. Let them know (and make sure they understand) what they are agreeing to.
So, clearly define what you are asking permission for. Let’s say you’re running a tattoo parlor. Describe the risk involved and potential side-effects of getting a tattoo. Explain, in writing, your return policy or any other policy that might affect the customer.
The Liability Waiver
The next section should include a liability waiver. This is the part where the participants agree that they understand the risks and are undertaking them of their own free will. It shouldn’t be too elaborate. It just needs to be clear that you cannot be held liable if something that was described in the previous section does happen.
The personal information the participants need to include will depend on your state’s laws. It can be as simple as giving their full name and signature. Conversely, they might need to provide a state-issued document. Check your local laws or consult a lawyer if you are unsure.
Also, parents and legal guardians can give consent for minors. The same rules apply, the only difference is that the minors are not giving their consent personally. This type of consent form is very common for children who are going to school.
Get Legal Advice
If you are asking people to give consent to activities that pose a substantial risk to their wellbeing, you should consult a lawyer. Giving consent for very dangerous activities may be regulated by multiple laws. So, you should cover your bases and get legal advice.
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