Disclaimers work the same way as your other legal agreements.
They give users a heads-up on what to expect and make the limitations of your content, product or services known.
If your disclaimer is easy to find or part of an accessible FAQ (like with Wikipedia), it is likely for a court to agree that the liability is on your user rather than your company.
Developers, bloggers, and writers use them because they do more to hurt than help. If there’s a high risk of misuse, err on the side of providing disclaimers. However, less risky industries can likely proceed fine without them.
When to use a disclaimer
There are particular situations that require disclaimers more than others.
If your service or product falls under any of the following categories, consider posting a disclaimer in a conspicuous place on your website or through your mobile app.
The examples of WebMD, iHerb and Wikipedia showed above emphasize that this is an important area for having disclaimers.
For example, people will often Google their symptoms before making a doctor’s appointment, making disclaimers regarding the effectiveness of online medical information or supplements is sadly necessary.
The last thing your company needs is to face a lawsuit due to misuse of your product or information.
Medical disclaimers are often very detailed, like with iHerb or WebMD.
However, if you merely provide a platform for doctors and other medical professionals to share information with the public, a disclaimer similar to the Wikipedia’s medical disclaimer should be enough.
People rely on professional advice and often do not make the distinction between hiring a professional and reading an expert’s blog.
Attorneys especially face this ordeal.
Potential clients may interpret an attorney’s blog as legal advice and pursue remedies if that fails to work for them.