Premise Liability Basics for Tarot Professionals

Bitstrips - Premise Liability

You’re probably thinking that this whole premise liability thing is not a big deal. If you’ve bought business insurance that covers premise liability claims, then you may be right. However, the typical startup professional tarot reader these days isn’t operating out of his or her own storefront (and if you are, then my post is not likely to pertain to you because you’ve already got insurance to handle this). You’re probably reading out of your home, meeting clients at a local shop or café, or meeting clients at their homes. And you’re going at it without insurance coverage because you’re a maverick. Eeps. What could possibly go wrong?

I say any time you’re doing business, you better get insurance to cover every aspect of your business operations. But if nothing I say is going to convince you to pay out for insurance coverage, then read on and at least half-cover your butt.

Inviting Clients to Your Home for Readings

When you invite a client to your home for a paid tarot reading, that client is a business invitee and by law in most U.S. jurisdictions, you owe a very high duty of care to that client. The classic hypothetical is a faulty stair on a staircase or a loose floorboard that you let the client walk on. It’s not enough for you to simply warn the client about the faulty stair or floorboard and then hope the client will be careful. You owe a duty to that client to fix the issue. If there are hanging plants from your ceiling and one of those plants falls on your client’s head, then you may find yourself in a legally dicey game of “who’s to blame.”

Win or lose such a case, the sheer cost of having to play the blame game in the first place should be enough to get you to pay attention right now. Or what if there’s an electrical cord or cable wire running across a room and your client somehow manages to trip over it? You thought it was fine because it ran under a rug and what idiot can possibly trip over a cord or cable running under a rug but your client just manages to be that idiot. And now that idiot has broken her leg and expects you to pay for it. What do you do? What if you’ve got clutter everywhere and your client trips and falls over a stack of books in the middle of the hallway and got badly injured and for whatever reason, now wants to sue? What if your kid spills a drink on the kitchen floor, ignores it, runs off, the spouse sees it but decides to “clean it up later” and before “later” comes, your client walks into the kitchen and slips? The client then dislocates her hip from the slip and fall, doesn’t have health insurance, and now is asking you to pay for the medical bills.

Not likely to happen so why worry? Is that what you’re going to tell yourself?

If there are any potentially hazardous situations going on at your home, and not by your personal standard but by “a reasonable person’s” standard (yeah, I know, vague), then please do not invite clients to your home for tarot readings.

Or, in the alternative, consider the following Release and Waiver of Liability [Click here to download DOCX file].

As usual, with all the docs I provide on my website, you’re free to use or edit any of the content in the downloadable document without need to credit or attribute me.

In the majority of U.S. jurisdictions, such a signed release and waiver of liability is legally enforceable, but in a few states, it’s not. So you’ll want to make sure it’s legally enforceable in your state. For some cool reading material, here is a law review article on the enforceability of ski lift liability waivers in various states. Or this awesome publication by a law firm covering state by state enforceability of release and waiver of liability agreements (also known as exculpatory clauses or exculpatory agreements).

Reading Tarot at Someone Else’s Shop

Some shops have premise liability insurance that can cover claims brought on even by events like you reading tarot at their place. These shops are going to be okay with hosting you. However, there are many shops, especially the small, independent ones (the ones we all love) who might love to have you read tarot at their place but can’t allow it for insurance and liability reasons. What do you do? Maybe the insurance policy they have in place wouldn’t cover third party services like your tarot readings or maybe the shop owner’s landlord isn’t keen on the idea because there are premise liability concerns.

Try this: show them the Release and Waiver of Liability document you’ve prepared and propose that you are required to have any and every patron to the store sign the release before you’ll do a professional reading for them. In the Release and Waiver of Liability document you draw up, you’ll include both your name, your business name, and the shop’s full legal business entity name (I say that because a metaphysical shop called Sun Moon Stars might not actually be legally called Sun Moon Stars; it might be John Doe dba Sun Moon Stars if it’s a sole proprietorship or it might be called Sun Moon Stars, LLC, or even Doe Enterprises, LLC dba Sun Moon Stars). If it’s a landlord that’s being fussy, include the landlord’s name or business name as well. These folks may have to then show it to their insurance carrier to confirm, but it might just be enough to strike up a cool arrangement between that indie shop owner and you.

This is all, of course, assuming you live in a state that will enforce release and waiver of liability or exculpatory agreements. Definitely check.

A lot of tarot readers will meet a client at a café to transact business. Technically, this is probably not allowed. So. Well. Yeah. It’s always good manners to check with the café proprietor first to make sure they’re okay with you doing tarot readings there.

Visiting a Client’s Home for a Reading

When you visit a client for a tarot reading, now the tables have turned and you’re the business invitee. Now the client owes you a reasonable duty of care to make sure the premises is not hazardous. Thus, you don’t need to have a client sign a release if you’ll be reading at the client’s home or place of business. However, safety can sometimes become a concern. Use discretion and your best judgment here.

Likewise, if a client invites you to the client’s premises, then no waiver is necessary because, again, now you’re the business invitee and it’s the client who owes you a reasonable duty of care.

Addressing Safety Concerns

Personally, I haven’t encountered any tarot reading situations where I felt my safety was in jeopardy (::knock on wood::). However, that is not to say I’m unable to conceive of situations where an independent professional tarot reader could find him or herself at risk. Clients can be a mixed bag and no matter how psychic or intuitive you think you are, you just won’t be able to anticipate every shade of crazy that comes your way.

I have read for clients out of my home before, but always when big, bad Hubby is present. I have read for clients out of coffee houses and restaurants, though always under safe conditions with at least one other human being knowing exactly where I am at the time. Because you just never know. I’ve also read for clients at their homes, but only people I know well or people that people I know well will vouch for. A full-time professional tarot reader may not have that luxury. Thus, any time you’re visiting a client’s home for a reading or reading event, take the necessary precautions.

It’s a Judgment Call

Legally all of the above on premise liability and the duty you owe to invitees would apply to any friends or guests you invite over to your home. However, we’re not going to make Aunt Betty or Nancy the Neighbor sign a waiver before they visit. Most Aunt Bettys and Nancy the Neighbors aren’t even going to think of suing you if they do end up tripping and falling for any reason. You’ll rush to help, get an ice pack, and everybody will sit around and laugh it off. It’s because most people are good, non-litigious folk. So it’s a judgment call you have to make on whether you want to get business invitees to sign waivers before they enter your property.


Disclaimer. The foregoing blog post is not intended to be business or legal advice. It is intended to get you thinking about issues that you could encounter as someone doing business as a tarot professional. Please do not ever rely on the Internet for legal advice. Before you launch a business, even a tarot business, you’ll want to consult the professionals and let them know about your specific business circumstances so they can help you get all your ducks in a row.

5 thoughts on “Premise Liability Basics for Tarot Professionals

  1. Suzi Petito

    Nancy LaPonzina, I’m like you – no business interests with Tarot. It is just for me, and will range to the social connections, fun and learning that it brings. Business is not a goal at my age – Freedom with my own time IS:-) However, no one like Benebell can put all that information out there with the back up of profession and experience – and for that, Benebell, I thank you.


  2. Pingback: Mad Hookups - September 2015 - The Tarot Lady

  3. Hi Benebell,

    First of all, your post on starting a tarot business have been SO helpful to me. Lately, I’ve done all the research to try and set up an online tarot reading business, and I always find myself back at your site so THANK YOU!!! Is liability something I have to worry about with an online tarot reading service?

    Thank you for all your help!


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