Can you be held legally liable for a good or service that you recommend? Can someone take you to court and sue you over a recommendation that you provide? The answer is – more often than you’d think.
In the sue-happy society that we live in today, everyone seems to be working one angle or another. Spill hot coffee on yourself? Sue the person who sold it to you for damages. Some guy went nuts and flew his plane into the building where your husband worked? Sue the widow for whatever reason you can dream up – logical or not. Your kid bullies another kid at school and gets detention? Sue the violent video game manufacturer you feel made the kid a bully – or even your kid a victim.
It sounds crazy, but you can be sued for almost anything, so the best course to take is to cover yourself from all angles. If you promote a product, make sure you have a disclaimer saying that you cannot be held responsible for anyone who doesn’t get the results they feel like they are supposed to. If you give advice that could have legal / medical / whatever ramifications, remind everyone that you are not a doctor / medical professional / what have you, and they take your advice at their own risk.
This extends to websites that provide reviews as well. If at some time you decide to start or contribute to a review site of some sort, you need to make sure that you do not leave yourself open for litigation in case the facial scrub makes their eyebrows fall out or the remote control car blows up their house. There are variables that one could hardly imagine that someone at some time may try to exploit to bring a lawsuit to life.
Perhaps the previous examples are a little dramatic, but you can easily get the idea of the horrors that could be ahead for the unprotected. Take plenty of time to cross your ‘t’s, dot your ‘i’s, mind your ‘p’s and ‘q’s. It could make a big difference later. 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. It’s not worth the risk.
What is your best course of action? Have a lawyer help you draft or fully draft up a standard disclaimer saying that what you write is only your opinion. Ensure it says that you cannot be held liable for any harm, physical, financial or otherwise, as a result of someone using a service or product as a result of reading your review.
This is especially true 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.) The point is however that someone may take that advice or something insane like drinking 30 juiced pumpkins per day to cure dementia. You never know, so always cover your bases legally.