1. What Is a Disclaimer?
2. Using Disclaimers for Applications and Websites
3. Tips for Writing a Disclaimer

Updated November 6, 2020:

A disclaimer agreement sample can help you successfully add a disclaimer to a document so you'll be legally protected from liability.

What Is a Disclaimer?

When writing a contract, you have the option of including a variety of clauses, including a disclaimer. Essentially, you can add a disclaimer in a document to stop the document from becoming a contract or to prevent the creation of a warranty. Disclaimers are also commonly referred to as hedge clauses.

You can also use a disclaimer to disavow or deny a claim or to give up your interest in a piece of property or a title.

Using Disclaimers for Applications and Websites

While you might not be familiar with disclaimers, their use in legal documents is very common. In general, there are two reasons you might want to use a disclaimer:

  1. You want to provide something with a warning.
  2. You need to limit your liability.

Providing a warning is the most common and easy-to-understand use of disclaimers.

In some cases, statutory law might back up your use of a disclaimer to warn or limit liability. In Washington state, for instance, there is a law that states people who suffer an injury at a horse-riding facility cannot sue the facility for damages. It is very common for books to include disclaimers. In particular, books that give medical advice that has not received approval by a government agency can include a disclaimer absolving the author and publisher of responsibility for the effects of using the advice.

Disclaimers have become very popular in the internet age and are frequently found on smartphone applications, computer software, and websites. The main purpose of disclaimers on these items is limiting liability for users' mistakes, although they can also serve as warnings. As with books, disclaimers are frequently used on websites that provide alternative medical advice.

Website disclaimers can cover several legal issues that can impact the owner and operator of a website, and they can serve as legal notices to website users. On websites, a disclaimer can also serve as a license that outlines the rules for using the website, which helps limit the website owner's liability. Some states have information disclosure laws, and including a disclaimer can help a website operator comply with these laws. Essentially, a disclaimer can function as a condensed version of the terms and conditions of a website.

A disclaimer can serve three important purposes on a website or mobile application:

  1. It describes when and how a person can use the website. Because the disclaimer must be copied before a person can use the website, this part of the disclaimer functions as a copyright license.
  2. It protects the owner from being held liable for the actions of the users while they are on the site.
  3. It discloses information the law might require.

When drafting a disclaimer, you can break the document into multiple sections:

  • A copyright license.
  • A clause that states which laws apply to the website and in which jurisdiction disputes related to the site must be resolved.
  • An entire agreement clause.
  • A clause for variation.
  • A liability disclaimer.
  • A section describing what information is legally required to be disclosed.

Tips for Writing a Disclaimer

If you want to write a disclaimer for your website, there are a few basic tips you should keep in mind:

  • You must list the date of the last time you updated your disclaimer.
  • You should include a statement about your website's purpose and that you aren't responsible for any informational errors on your site.
  • You also must state that you don't hold any responsibility for missing information.
  • State that you cannot be held responsible for any damages resulting from the use of your site, whether direct, incidental, or indirect.
  • Explain that you have the right to modify your site at any time and that you are not required to provide your users with notice of these changes.

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