Writing a Simple Hold Harmless Letter (with Samples)

A hold harmless letter is a tidy way of limiting liability in a wide range of situations. If someone is working for you on your property or will be using your property, you may want to get one of these agreements signed. This protects you in the event that something goes wrong and an injury occurs.

For instance, it might be wise to get a signed Hold Harmless Letter if you are planning to have a contractor do some work around your house. Maybe they’ll just be painting the exterior or perhaps you’re getting a completely remodeled kitchen.

Either way, there will be a lot of unusual people and equipment cluttering your house and yard. What happens if a door-to-door salesman or a volunteer collecting donations for a charity trips over a piece of equipment on the walkway to your front door?

Ordinarily, they might be able to sue you for damages. If that equipment belonged to the contractor and you have a hold harmless agreement in place, you are far less likely to be held responsible for the injury.

These letters, which may also be called a hold harmless agreement, are sometimes part of employment contracts. Take the example of a lab technician who seeks employment with a doctor’s office.

Part of their new hire paperwork may include a hold harmless agreement or clause that protects the employee against legal claims. This way, if the lab technician makes an error, they can usually not be held personally responsible for any legal claims. Instead, the employer takes responsibility for any liability.

Hold harmless clauses may similarly be found in rental agreements. For example, the owner of a ballroom who rents their space for special occasions may ask those renters to sign such an agreement so they cannot be sued for mishaps that may occur. 

Hold Harmless General Agreements

Hold harmless agreements can provide a variety of protections. These are usually categorized in three groups: general, services and use of property. The general category holds protected parties harmless for a specific event that is defined in the agreement.

This type of protection is appropriate, for example, when a group of students wants to rent the college swimming pool for an event. The college may ask for a hold harmless agreement so they cannot be held liable for mishaps occurring at the event.

The second category, services, applies when one party is asked to perform services for another. In this example, a hold harmless agreement may be necessary when a subcontractor is hired by a general contractor to paint a house. Such an agreement might protect the general contractor from claims made by the subcontractor.

In the use of property category property owners are protected from liability from accidents that may occur while someone else is using their property. If one party wants to rent a property to hold an anniversary dinner, they may be asked to sign a hold harmless agreement that protects the property owner.

Hold harmless agreements are usually more effective when they are specific. They should include the full name and address of each party to the agreement. Moreover, the precise type of protection offered should be described with reasonable detail. The following examples are basic templates for a Hold Harmless Letter.

Sample Hold Harmless Letter

This Hold Harmless Agreement (“Agreement”) is entered into by and between John Doe of 1234 Main Street, Anytown, California, hereinafter “Promisor,” and Brian Smith of 5678 Alder Street, Anytown, California, hereinafter “Promisee,” on this ____ day of ________, 20__, in Anytown, California.

The intent of this Agreement is to indemnify Promisee from any claims arising from and related to painting the exterior of the home at 5678 Alder Street, Anytown, California or renting the ballroom at 5678 Alder Street, Anytown, California.

Promisor shall fully defend, indemnify and hold harmless Promisee from any claims, demands, lawsuits, causes of action, liability loss, damage or injury without limitation. These may include claims regarding personal injury, property damage and monetary loss. 

In the event any claim or suit is brought against Promisee, Promisor shall pay for legal counsel to defend against claims that are within the scope of this agreement. 

Should any party to this agreement file suit in a court of law to enforce or interpret this Agreement, the prevailing party shall be entitled to any legal fees incurred in defending against a third party claim as well as reasonable legal fees and costs incurred in an effort to enforce or interpret this Agreement.

This agreement shall be interpreted under the laws of the State of California.

Promisor Signature 

Promisee Signature

Sample Hold Harmless Letter for House Painter

This Agreement is entered into by and between Mr. Smith, a house painter, hereinafter Promisor and Mr. Jones, a homeowner, hereinafter Promisee, on this first day of January, 2014, in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Whereas, Mr. Smith desires to hold harmless Mr. Jones from any claims and/or litigation that may arise from any actions connected with Mr. Smith painting Mr. Jones’s house.

Recitals

Now Therefore, in consideration of the mutual conditions and covenants that are contained herein, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones hereby agree as follows:

Hold Harmless. Mr. Smith shall fully defend, indemnify and hold harmless Mr. Jones from any and all claims, demands, lawsuits, causes of action, loss, liability, injury and/or damage of any kind whatsoever including without limitation all claims for property damage, monetary loss, personal injury, equitable relief, and/or wrongful death.

Whether brought by an individual or other entity or imposed by a court of law or by administrative action of any federal, state or local governmental body or agency that arises out of any acts negligence omission or willful misconduct in any way on the part of Mr. Smith is the course of his work. 

This indemnification applies to and includes, without limitation the payment of all penalties, judgments, fines, awards, attorneys’ fees degrees and related costs or expenses and any reimbursements to Mr. Jones for all legal fees, expenses and costs that are incurred by it.

The agreement shall be binding in the state of [Name of State].

Mr. Smith
Signature

Mr. Jones
Signature

By Andre Bradley