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  • Covering the Bases

    When can you be held liable for something you recommend? When can someone conceivably take you to court and sue you for all you’ve got? The answer is – more often than you’d think.

    In today’s sue-happy society, everyone seems to be working an angle. Spill hot coffee on yourself? Sue the person who sold it to you. Some guy went nuts and flew his plane into the building where your husband worked? Sue the widow. Your kid bullies another kid at school and gets detention? Sue the violent video game manufacturer.

    Seriously, you can be sued for anything, so the best course to take is to cover yourself from all angles. If you promote a product, have a disclaimer saying that you cannot be held responsible for anyone who doesn’t get the results they want. If you dispense advice that could have legal / medical / whatever ramifications, remind everyone that you are not a doctor / medical professional / what have you.

    This goes for websites that do reviews. If you decide to start or contribute to a review site, you need to be sure that you don’t leave yourself open for litigation in case the facial scrub makes their eyebrows fall out or the remote control car blows up their house.

    OK, I’m being a little dramatic, but you get the idea. cross your ‘t’s, dot your ‘i’s, mind your ‘p’s and ‘q’s. You don’t want to end up on the hook for something beyond your control, just because you wrote something on a website or a blog that later bit someone in the butt.

    Best course of action? Have a lawyer help draft up a standard disclaimer saying that what you write is only your opinion, and that you cannot be held liable for any harm, physical, financial or otherwise, resulting in someone using a service or product as a result of reading your review.

    The same goes for dispensing medical advice – telling  someone that flax seeds are good for cancer is borderline – they could interpret it as meaning you are telling them to stop taking their cancer meds and eat flax seeds instead and they will be cured. (I’m assuming you don’t believe that flax seeds will actually CURE cancer.. right? Because that’s just nuts.)

    You can never be too careful about protecting yourself against litigation! Think about it the next time you set yourself up as an authority on a subject. You never know what someone might do.

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