Using a General Release
You’re a contractor (or maybe you do medical transcription from home, or perhaps you’re a landscaper). You do good work, you’re reliable and your prices are right. You need a simple and easy way to invoice your clients and get paid faster so that you can focus on your work.
Why Use a General Release Form?
So you’ve smacked into the car in front of you and damaged its bumper. The furious owner is tapping on your window, asking for your insurance information. But you know very well that if you file an insurance claim you’re going to pay, pay, and pay again for that bumper.
Fortunately he happily agrees to your generous cash offer. Now you just need him to sign a General Release form so that he doesn’t pop up with matching paint fragments and a big auto damage claim a day later.
A General Release agreement, also sometimes called a Liability Release, a Liability Waiver or a Legal Release, is used by the Releasor to release all claims against the Releasee, which might be an individual or a company.
Tip: If you are asked to sign a General Release, be sure that you know you are releasing ALL claims. For instance, the man whose bumper got mangled is not only signing off on the damage to his car, but also on whiplash. If there is any possibility at all that another claim might arise, talk to an attorney before you sign.
General Release forms are typically used for minor damage—such as to a car or other property—or to terminate litigation when two parties reach an agreement. The form will usually include language that provides for the Releasee paying the Releasor’s attorney fees if he decides to resume proceedings.
Tip: In a pinch you can easily convert our General Release template to a Model’s Release form. This is needed when a photographer or videographer intends to sell a picture or video for commercial purposes, such as an advertisement (but not when it is to be used for newspaper/editorial work, provided that it does not violate privacy laws). If the model is a minor, be sure to get a parent or guardian’s signature. A Model’s Release is often required by publishers and will ensure that a model doesn’t later object to his or her image being used.
A General Release form is not normally valid unless the Releasee receives “good and valuable consideration,” such as some sort of payment, and acknowledges receipt. The nature of the payment doesn’t have to be included, but you may do so if you wish.
How to Use FastDue’s General Release Form
Like all FastDue’s free legal documents, our General Release form is intuitive and easy to use.
Upload your own logo for a professional look, or use our default logo, or click the X for no logo at all. Enter header information as appropriate, and add the names of both parties plus their contact information.
If you want to alter the information in any clause, simply click on it, or even delete the clause by clicking the X.
Tip: You may want to tailor FastDue’s free General Release form to be more specific if you don’t want the agreement to be interpreted as including other incidents.
If negotiation is necessary, just use the comments box to message back and forth until the agreement is mutually satisfactory. No need for chicken-scratch alterations on a battered document.
Be sure that both parties sign. You can sign electronically (see information about electronic signatures below) or print copies out and sign by hand. FastDue’s free accounts ensure that your documents and invoices are always to hand, but it’s a smart idea to back up your files with a paper copy.
Tip: Don’t have a General Release form to hand in your glove compartment when you smack into that car? Just pop into the nearest internet café or library—or even use a Smartphone on the spot—to access FastDue online. Each party can use their own e-mail account to e-sign the agreement.
Legal requirements may vary greatly from state to state. To ensure that your agreement is valid, please check your state’s laws and modify FastDue’s free agreements accordingly. If in doubt, always consult an attorney.
A Note About Electronic Signatures
The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or E-SIGN, was signed into law in 2000 and provides a consistent legal basis for the validity of electronic signatures in all states, including those such as Georgia and Illinois that had not already enacted UETA, or the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.
An electronic signature can be as simple as typing your name into the signature space and preserving the accompanying electronic paper trail. More complex (and therefore more secure) forms include iris or fingerprint scans and encrypted digital signatures that use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) such as VeriSign.
Electronic signatures are valid for a wide range of applications; they are not, however, valid for wills, court orders and other court documents. It is always smart to keep a back-up paper copy.
If you have any concerns at all about using an electronic signature, simply use FastDue’s free interactive template and messaging system to thrash out the details of an agreement; then print out the final result and sign it in the traditional fashion. Consult your lawyer for further information.
A General Release of all Claims is also sometimes known as a Liability Release or a Legal Release.
A legal release is a legal instrument that acts to terminate any legal liability between the releasor and the releasee(s) signed by the releasor. A release may also be made orally in some circumstances. Releases are routinely used by photographers, in film production, by documentary filmmakers, or by radio and music producers when they photograph, film, video or record the voice or performance of individuals to be sure that the person consents or will not later object to the material being used for whatever purpose the releasee (or anyone they may assign the release rights to) wishes, i.e. that the releasee wishes to use the images, sounds or any other rendering that is a result of the recording made of the releasor (or property owned by the releasor for which the releasor may claim some other right such as industrial design rights, trademark or trade dress rights). This will help in insuring the copyright owner has a clean chain of title for any work if it is later published, broadcast, shown in a public cinema or otherwise made public.
It is very often used to insure that litigation is terminated when a settlement or compromise between the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) is reached. A general release may release any claims known or unknown that the releasor may have against the releasee, the release may also be very specific, i.e. dealing with specific acts between the parties and not applying to any other acts.
Generally a release is of the form:
For good and valuable consideration, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, I, the releasor, release the releasee for any and all claims I may have against the releasee up to the date of the signing of this release.
However, most releases are much more detailed in the recitation of what is being released and the extent of the release (where it is valid, when it become valid if there are conditions on its validity, the amount of consideration if it is substantial) and they are either copied and modified as necessary from various form books or drafting manuals used by lawyers or are preprinted forms that are purchased from legal form publishers.
Releases should be drafted by a lawyer, solicitor or civil law notary, except perhaps in the most routine of situations; if the release is not correctly drafted or does not recite any necessary limiations the releasee may find out later that the release did not cover all circumstances and the releasor may find that the release was too general and released some claim, right or entitlement that the releasor should have retained.

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