The health and wellness industry continually grows in the United States, as more and more people turn to professionals for advice in weight loss, exercise, and lifestyle changes. As a wellness coach, you have the ability to assist others in their journey toward better holistic health. However, you also open yourself up to liabilities if you are not careful about how you select your clients and what services you offer. In order to protect yourself from personal injury lawsuits, here are some preventative tactics you can employ.
1. Require Signed Agreements
When you do take on a new client, be sure to sit down with them and devise a specific plan to achieve the results they want. Decide on the length and intensity of diet and exercise programs. After the specific terms of the treatment plan are set, be sure to also provide a list of potential risks that the client assumes when they begin a wellness plan with you. Discus these risks to make sure your client can understand them. Then, have your client sign an agreement to be treated as outlined by the plan you created. This signature and plan will act like a waiver should injury result from a complication of the plan that you could not foresee.
2. Get Doctor's Notes
Many people who look for wellness consulting have health problems already. You are well educated in the causes of chronic disease and the basics of nutrition, but you are not a doctor. If your client has a health condition that needs to be supervised by a medical doctor, you should require them to get approval from their physician before beginning any treatment plan you might devise. For example, if you have a diabetic client, they have have specific dietary needs. If your wellness regimen requires an extreme diet or supplement, there could be adverse effects in your client, opening you up for a lawsuit. A doctor should okay exercise and diet plans to help remove some of the professional responsibility from your shoulders.
Also, keep in mind that your clients do not have to share medical records with you and you may not know how their medications will affect their ability to follow a wellness plan. Therefore, they should sign a statement assuming responsibility for undisclosed medical conditions.
3. Listen To Your Clients
Take complaints seriously. Lifestyle changes are difficult, and part of your job is to motivate those changes. Sometimes, motivation can be taken the wrong way or clients may feel pressured to perform above their actual ability. Be sure to take comments during workouts seriously. Muscle injuries or over-exertion can lead to serious injuries. Respond promptly to any complaints of pain. Never force the completion of a class or diet program if a person seems to be suffering.
4. Stay Within Your Expertise
Never endorse a medication, vitamin, supplement, or product unless you are qualified to do so. For example, it can be easy to promote a weight-loss regimen to a specific client, but if you have limited knowledge of nutrient metabolism, you open yourself up for liability because people depend on your professional opinion when making decisions. If you make recommendations that fall outside of your experience and education, you can be held accountable for damages done as a result of those recommendations. If clients ask for your opinion on something that you are not professionally qualified to give advice on, it's better to refer them to a professional that you trust.
For more information about protecting your business and yourself from lawsuits, discuss your business plan and client agreements with a personal injury lawyer in your area, such as those at the Law Office of Leslie S. Shaw. You can successfully help people on the path the better health without compromising your financial security.