No matter the size of your business, if you have a website - you need a disclaimer. Even if you aren’t making money yet and just posting to a blog, you still do because anytime someone visits your website - you are entering into a legal agreement with them and YOU are responsible for the content you put out there.
DISCLAIMERS are everywhere - anytime someone is warning you of something, letting you know something for your own good, it’s basically a disclaimer.
Remember when one woman sued McDonald’s for spilling hot coffee on herself and won $2 million? After that the Company upped the disclaimer on their cup - this coffee is SUPER HOT - be careful.
There was a lawsuit filed against a cycling website a few years ago for negligence because a bike rider died while trying to break a record for the site and his family sued saying the website wasn’t clear enough on the risks.
So what exactly is a disclaimer?
In the most basic terms: a disclaimer is a statement that you are not responsible for something.
In business, it’s basically a statement to protect yourself from claims of liability. Note - it is not the same as a WAIVER which basically means someone is ‘waiving’ a right.
Disclaimers are meant to protect you and your business from legal action (obvs something to avoid!). When someone visits your website or buys a service/product from you - you guys are entering into a legal contract.
Yep, just by having a website you are in a contract with lots o’ people - even if you don’t realize it - you are bound by what you put on your site and are in a contract with each visitor.
THIS is why Terms of Service and Disclaimers are so important. A disclaimer protects you from claims against your business from information used (or misused) on your website.
For example: Susie is a health coach and puts up a video on how to do yoga at home. She walks you through a workout, etc. Here comes Beth, she watches the video, tries the pigeon pose, and ends up falling and breaking her arm. Crap. Beth sues Susie for negligence. (PS - if you have steps to a process or a guiding someone through something - you increase your legal risk)
Now, if Susie had the proper disclaimers on her website (that she has no responsibility for any injury, that you are doing this at your own risk, etc) than Beth likely won’t get very far (I say likely, because there are no guarantees). But no disclaimer? See you in court.
Note - it’s just as important to have disclaimers in your 1:1 contract as it is on your website!
What goes in a disclaimer?
That depends. I know, that is like the most lawyerly answer ever...but it’s true!
Disclaimers are one of those agreements that really should be custom and definitely not borrowed/copied from elsewhere. This is one of those times where a lawyer’s hand can go a long way in protecting you and here’s why.
You and your business are UNIQUE.
What you are doing as a health coach is different than what Susie is doing as a social media marketer. Heck, what you are doing as a health coach specializing in weight loss is different than what another health coach specializing in food allergies is doing.
For example, for health coaches, it’s SUPER important that your clients and website visitors know that you are not a doctor and not providing any type of medical advice whatsoever.
Does Susie the social media marketer need this in her disclaimer? Nope, what she needs is for her people to know that she is NOT promising she will double their income if she starts posting on Facebook for them.
Disclaimers explain who you are, what you are doing, and what you are NOT doing.
The bottom line is - protect yourself!
If you have a disclaimer does that mean you are off the hook from all liability. Of course not!! But it's a strong way to protect yourself.
And disclaimers don’t fix everything!
What a disclaimer does not do: protect you if you are making false claims, false advertising, misleading your visitors, etc. Just Don’t Do that Shit!
P.S. Are you walking around without one?