A Hold Harmless Agreement Vs Waiver

When it comes to legal jargon, even the most seasoned professionals can feel lost in translation. Two terms that often cause confusion are “hold harmless agreement” and “waiver.”

Although these terms may appear interchangeable, they actually serve different purposes and have distinct legal implications. Understanding the differences between these two legal agreements can help individuals and businesses protect themselves from liability.

Hold Harmless Agreement

A hold harmless agreement, also known as an indemnity agreement, is a contract between two parties that transfers liability from one party to the other. In simpler terms, it is an agreement wherein one party agrees not to hold the other party responsible for any damages or losses that may arise from a specific activity.

For example, a construction company may require a hold harmless agreement from its subcontractors, ensuring that the subcontractors will not hold the company responsible for any accidents or damages that may occur while working on a project.

A hold harmless agreement can be unilateral, meaning one party assumes all liability, or reciprocal, meaning both parties agree to release each other from liability.

However, it is important to note that a hold harmless agreement may not provide full protection from legal claims. If the indemnifying party is found to have acted negligently or in bad faith, they may still be held liable for damages.


A waiver, on the other hand, is a voluntary relinquishment of a known right or claim. In essence, a waiver is an agreement not to bring legal action against someone or to waive a right that may otherwise exist.

For example, a gym may require its members to sign a waiver of liability, which states that the gym will not be held responsible for any injuries sustained during workouts.

Unlike a hold harmless agreement, a waiver does not transfer liability to another party. Instead, it simply acknowledges that the waiving party understands the risks involved and agrees not to hold the other party responsible.

It is important to note that a waiver does not necessarily absolve someone from all legal liability. If an injury occurs due to the negligence of the other party, a waiver may not provide complete protection.


In summary, a hold harmless agreement and a waiver serve different purposes, but both can be useful in protecting individuals and businesses from legal liability.

A hold harmless agreement transfers liability from one party to another, while a waiver acknowledges the risks involved and waives certain rights or claims.

Both agreements should be carefully crafted and reviewed by legal professionals to ensure they provide the intended protection from legal claims.