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Contract

If You Waste My Time, I’m Sending You A Bill

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve lived in Phoenix for over eight years and I have yet to find a dentist that I like as a person and an office I don’t dread going to. I particularly hate dentist offices that have the open setting where each patient has their own chair and equipment but you’re in a big room or a room with only three walls and you can hear and see a lot of what’s going on with other people.

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

My new dentist is no exception. I arrived about 10 minutes before my appointment time, signed in, and they ignored me for about 10 minutes before asking me to fill out the new patient paperwork.  I filled out the paperwork and waited another 15 minutes before being called back. When I made the appointment, the receptionist said each patient got a separate room – wrong! I got a bay with three walls. The dental assistant took my x-rays which aren’t fun for me and my small mouth and said it would be 5 to 7 minutes. No problem – I popped on my iPod to pass the time. Five songs later, the dentist still wasn’t there.  I took out my earbuds and chatted with the assistant for another 10 minutes.

When the dentist finally came in, he didn’t use my name, shake my hand, or look me in the eye. I was pissed. He spent about 5 minutes with me and said they’d have to schedule my cleaning for another day. I was livid. It was at that moment I decided that I need to have mutual agreements with all my providers that state we won’t waste each other’s time and if we do, we can send the other a bill. Seriously!

I will agree to be on-time for all my appointments, do any requested prep work, and fill out any paperwork they send me in advance. I expect to be seen by a provider within 10 minutes of my appointment time and not to be left waiting more than 5 minutes if I’m seeing multiple providers in a visit. If I’m made to wait more than this amount time, the clock starts ticking at I will bill them at $100/hour in .1-hour increments. If I’m ever late or unprepared, you can bill me at $100/hour in .1-hour increments if they have to wait for me. The invoice will need to be sent within 7 calendar days of the service and payment must be remitted within 30 days of the invoice date.

That seems fair, right?

For my legal eagle readers, this is a valid contract if I draft it and the provider accepts it, right? I’ll be totally upfront and send it to the provider in advance for their review. At first I just wanted to bill them for wasting my time, but I figured the billing needed to go both ways to get consideration.

I understand that sometimes things happen and people run late. Unfortunately, that’s how some people run their lives and their businesses. If you work in a service industry, you have an obligation to respect your clients’ time. I don’t know about you, but I’m busy. And I’m not just picking on dentists – this is for all service providers. If you’re going to waste my time, I want to make it worth my while.

New Adventures – Ladies Paintball

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  I am a law student.  In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences and opinions.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to entice me to do new things so I’ll have something interesting to write about.

So this past week the girls and I went to Ladies Night at the paintball field.  Westworld Paintball Adventures has a great deal for women.  Every Friday night ladies play for free, except for the cost of our ammunition.

My group consisted of four law students, one church friend, and two friends of friends.  When we arrived, the first thing we did was sign our waivers of liability.  Like eager law students, Barbi and I immediately scanned the verbiage for a clause preventing us from altering any of the terms of the contract.  Not seeing one, we immediately started crossing out anything that would release the company from liability for injuries caused by its own negligence.  The other law students in our group, acting like efficient/lazy law students, asked us to read the contract for them and make sure it was ok.  The clerk said it was rare for someone to actually read the waiver before signing it.

After signing our waivers and buying our ammo, we were issued protective vests, goggles, paintball guns, and team armbands.  We loaded our guns and headed onto the field.  We played five games with another group of teenage girls and a bunch of regulars.  In my first game, I was hit in my goggles.  It didn’t hurt.  I didn’t realize I was hit until I felt that my hair was wet with paint.  I was disappointed that my friends had the real experience of being hit with a paintball.  I wanted the experience too!

And boy did I get it.

In the next game I took two hits at point blank range.  One shot hit me on my uncovered neck and the other hit my side just below my arm.  At first I thought my neck was bleeding, but it was just the oily paint running down my skin.  It stung for hours.  One of the clerks said that the bruise on my side will take some time to heal.  I like to think of it as a battle wound.

During the next few days I had a singing audition, a gala, a prank, and a tweet up.   It was fun telling everyone that the bruise on my neck wasn’t a hickey.

Photo courtesy of  Merlz Tamondong.

Half Marathon Recap Part II – The Legal Side

When I signed up for the half marathon back in August, I knew my fee was non-refundable.  I have no recollection if I checked a box for a waiver at that time. 

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Image by g. rox via Flickr

Fast forward to January – I got my confirmation email with a link to get my “Packet Pickup Confirmation Sheet.”  I needed to sign and turn it in at the pre-race health expo to get my race number and microchip.  On this form was a “Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement” that was over three inches of small print.  It seems pretty sneaky for the organizers to get us to pay our money and then tell us what we had to agree to in order to participate. 

Here’s what the waiver said:
(You/your = the runner; We/us/our = the organizers)

  • Neither you nor your heirs can sue the organizers, sponsors, or municipalities for any reason related to the race.
  • You can’t sue if you’re injured or die during the race, even if we’re negligent.
  • We can use your name and photo without paying you for it.
  • If the event is cancelled or delayed, we won’t give you a refund.
  • You will pay all expenses for your medical care related to doing the race.

Past research of Arizona case law taught me that signing a waiver that releases an entity from liability, even if that entity is negligent, will be upheld by the court.  So basically, if you sign the waiver and get hurt, you can’t sue and win.  All the runners I talked to before the race said that they signed the waiver without reading it.  However, I remembered something from contract law that said if you cross out the terms of the contract that you don’t like before you sign it, that it removes those terms from the agreement.  I went through the waiver and crossed out the clause that released them from liability for their negligence and the clause that said I’m responsible for all race related medical expenses.  I used a bright royal blue ballpoint pen to cross out the clauses so they couldn’t claim that my marks could be mistaken for a bad print job from my printer. 

When I went to the pre-race expo, I brought clean copy of the waiver in case they didn’t accept my version of the agreement.  It ends up I didn’t need it.  The volunteer accepted my agreement without any questions. 

I emailed my personal injury attorney friend and he said what I did would probably hold up in court.  Looking back, I’m surprised that the agreement didn’t have a clause that said that participants couldn’t alter the waiver before signing it or that the organizers didn’t tell the expo volunteers not to accept waivers that had been altered.

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