Website Series, Part 3: Why Your Site Needs a Disclaimer – And What it Should Say
Its purpose is simple, yet critical: to protect you from lawsuits by people who sustain injuries (physical damage or financial loss) due to their misuse of the information provided, and may be looking to you, as the source of the information that allegedly got them into trouble, to foot the bill.
To avoid a potential financial disaster, every website should have a link in the footer to a Disclaimer document informing visitors:
➡ How the information on your site is (and is not) intended to be used;
➡ What you are (and are not) responsible for, and
➡ What your visitors should and should not expect from the information, products, and services being provided through the site.
A basic Disclaimer should contain, at the very least, some variation of the following statements:
1.) That any information provided on the website is intended as general information only, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional advice or services;
2.) That there are absolutely no guarantees being made with respect to the correctness, currency or accuracy of any information on your website, and/or with respect to any products or services being sold; and
3.) That you, as the owner of the site, are in no way responsible for your visitors’ use, misuse, or abuse of any information found on your site.
Of course, you may (and probably should) include additional statements, warnings and other CYA language specific to the products/services/information found on your site.
(For example, I include language in my Disclaimers stating that visiting my site or reading my posts does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. I also urge visitors to seek specialized legal advice custom-tailored to their particular situation before relying on the very general information in this blog to DIY all their legal stuff.)
Why is this so important?
As an example, let’s say you’re a health and nutrition consultant and you put up blog posts and educational videos on how to match foods to your blood type, or how clients with certain health conditions that make it difficult to lose weight can still get in shape.
Everything is going well, until you get served with a lawsuit from one of your subscribers who abused a nutrition tip given on your website and ended up in the hospital.
With the proper Disclaimers in place (advising readers/viewers to speak to a physician before making drastic dietary changes; stating that the information given on your site is not professional health advice; and including a general warning that whatever they do with the information is at their own risk), you’ll likely get the suit thrown out fairly quickly.
Without Disclaimers, if somebody actually injures themselves (or loses their life savings) by relying on your information gathered from your site, get ready to write some big checks to your lawyer to get rid of the case.
This is not to imply that you can’t win such a case without having any Disclaimers in place…
BUT posting some well-written Disclaimers CAN make the difference between spending $2,000 or spending $20,000 in legal fees to get the same result.
So go put up some Disclaimers and let people know you won’t be reimbursing anyone for misusing the information on your site.
Your bank account will thank you later.
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