by Steven Elkins
FENTON, MI – Is your church or ministry considering hosting a COVID-19 vaccination site? If yes, it is very important to have a Facility Use Agreement in place.
One of the best steps your ministry can take to help reduce the risk of liability is to develop a facility use agreement. This written and singed agreement outlines the relationship between your ministry and the outside organization. Here is a Sample Facility Use Agreement, which may serve as a template to strengthen your own similar agreement if organizations seek to use your ministry’s facilities.
The following are provisions that should be considered when drafting your facility use agreement.
Facility use agreements should contain indemnification, defense, and hold harmless provisions because this language offers your ministry protection from potential future claims which allege that it is liable for injuries or damages.
If an organization is using your ministry’s facilities for particular purpose, then the organization should be responsible for losses that result from that use. If an organization agrees to indemnify the ministry, then the organization is making a promise to be financially responsible for the legal responsibility of the ministry. Similarly, when the organization agrees to defend the ministry, usually referred to as a “duty to defend”, then the organization is promising the ministry that it will hire an attorney to defend against legal claims made against the ministry. Additionally, if an organization holds harmless the ministry, it agrees to release the ministry from liability and will not hold it responsible for some potential liability or loss. Accordingly, when paired with the duty to indemnify, the organization agrees both to cover the ministry’s losses resulting from certain liabilities and to not hold it responsible for those losses.
When drafting facility use agreements, we strongly encourage the inclusion of language in the agreement that the organization seeking use will defend, indemnify and hold harmless your ministry. In addition to outlining the types of injuries from which the organization agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold the ministry harmless (e.g., bodily injury, personal injury, emotional injury, property damage, etc.), the ministry should consider including exposure to infectious/communicable disease.
Facility use agreements should require an organization or individual that will use the ministry’s facilities to carry liability insurance in the organization’s or the individual’s name which will cover losses at the ministry’s facility. The insurance should also name the ministry as an additional insured. This will provide the ministry with an additional layer of protection if an injury or damage occurs at the ministry’s facility. When determining how much insurance the ministry should require the facility user to obtain when preparing its facility use agreement, ministry leaders might find Brotherhood Mutual’s article “How Much Liability Insurance Do I Need?” to be helpful.
Your ministry is encouraged to require the organization seeking use to carry general liability insurance and, if necessary, auto and worker’s compensation insurance. Because there likely will be medical professionals performing the vaccinations, it may be a good idea to require, that the organization and the medical professionals have professional liability or medical malpractice coverage.
Your ministry should also consider the cleaning and disinfecting process that will be utilized by the organization after the organization is finished using your ministry’s facility. With potential use of the building, another point for ministry leaders to consider is whether to limit the organization to using only certain areas in the ministry’s facility in order to decrease the time it takes to clean and disinfect following use.
Lastly, when discussing a facility use agreement with an organization, we encourage your ministry to request that the organization utilize a waiver and release form for each participant. This may be accomplished by adding the waiver and release language to a sign-in sheet that each participant signs upon entering the facility. In addition to the facility use agreement, such a waiver and release will provide your ministry with an added layer of protection should a participant bring a claim against your ministry or the organization. Here is a Sample Activity Participation Agreement(sometimes called a release or waiver).
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