Whether you use a website or blog to promote your business, sell products, or share information and ideas, there’s one thing you must not forget to include; a legal disclaimer. A disclaimer is a statement intended to limit your legal liability for what appears on your site or blog. A disclaimer essentially puts readers on notice that they are waiving all rights to sue you relating to anything contained in your blog or website.
What’s in a Disclaimer?
The effectiveness and value of a disclaimer depend, in part, on how well it’s written. The type of disclaimer you need depends on the nature of your website or blog. Information covered in a website or blog disclaimer might include:
- A notice that the information contained in the website or blog is not specific advice, but of a general nature, for informational purposes only.
- A notice that no representation is made about the accuracy, completeness or validity of any information on the site or blog.
- A limit on damages, and language stating the website or blog owner is not liable for any errors, omissions, losses, injuries or damages arising from the content or use of the content on the website or blog.
- An affirmation there is no professional relationship existing or created between the reader and the website or blog owner.
- A notice that any opinions presented is personal only (not those of an employer.)
- A notice stating that all information in the blog or website is copyrighted, and permission is required to reproduce or distribute it.
- A disclaimer for any liability from viruses or other contamination from using the website or blog.
- A notice the website or blog is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.
- A statement that the information contained in the website or blog is subject to modification at any time.
The Risk of a Lawsuit Depends On Content
You must take care to use a disclaimer specific to your situation, especially if your website or blog makes representations, or dispenses information or advice that could commonly subject you to liability. Your risk of liability depends on the nature of your site.
For example, a chiropractor who discusses treatments on a website is at a greater risk of being sued than a craft blogger who discusses the benefits of pressing flowers. (Put another way, the reader who gets hurt while attempting to self-treat based on the chiropractor’s advice is more likely to sue than the crafter who ends up with an unattractive smashed flower.)
The best way to ensure you are using a well-drafted, effective disclaimer that protects your interests is to make sure it is drafted by an experienced attorney.
Make Sure the Visitor Sees the Disclaimer
How the disclaimer looks, and where it is located, are also important. To provide the best protection, a disclaimer should be posted prominently on the website or blog, and be written in a reasonably large typeface. Although a disclaimer can be effective even if a website or blog visitor has not actually read its terms, if it’s so small that an average reader cannot see it clearly, or in a location that is easily overlooked, it might lose its effectiveness as a defense in a lawsuit.
The following applies to almost all Federal and State laws concerning disclaimers and disclosures. That wording is “clear and conspicuous,” The general definition given by most federal and state regulatory agencies is that the language in the body of a form is “conspicuous” if it is in larger or other contrasting type or color.” At a minimum, it should be at least the same size font as the surrounding text.
A Disclaimer is Simple Protection
The result of any lawsuit is always fact dependent and unpredictable. Including a disclaimer is not a guarantee that you won’t be liable for the content of your website or blog in the event you get sued. However, a disclaimer is a relatively simple way to provide some defense, and might even deter a reader or customer from suing in the first place.