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An advice disclaimer is a common feature on websites and may be used by offline businesses or in other locations. It is a statement that the person/business providing any type of information cannot be held liable for it in any way. It’s easy to see why these disclaimers so often occur on websites. Numerous sites provide plenty of information, but the reputable ones and the ones that want to avoid lawsuits make it clear this information is general and cannot substitute for the professional advice that would fit the individual’s circumstances.
Examples of the advice disclaimer abound and they may be general or specific depending on the types of information a business or website provides. Any website that specializes in providing medical material would not only issue an advice disclaimer but might advise people to seek medical advice. Legal sites may tell their patrons to talk to a lawyer specializing in the person’s specific legal concerns. Some companies also seek to avoid liability if a person gets the name of a lawyer from them. Nolo Press® has an extensive disclaimer that states they don’t take any money for lawyers that may advertise with them, and each client must determine, based on their own circumstances, whether a lawyer seems fitting for the work or advice needed.
Even at wiseGEEK, the issue of the advice disclaimer is taken seriously. At the bottom of each wiseGEEK article page is a series of clickable links. One of these is titled, “terms.” Clicking on this link brings people to a disclaimer of liability that states the content of wiseGEEK is not a substitute for professional advice.
As much as most people aren’t likely to sue for poor advice that really is only meant as general information, it is still a real concern. Though the companies that use an advice disclaimer are protecting their finances, these statements can also be protective of people who use their services. Unfortunately, there exists growing concern that people rely on information, especially from the Internet, instead of getting expert care or advice when they need it.
Things like medical self-diagnosis or personal defense in legal matters is potentially dangerous and injurious to individuals. Reorienting people toward getting personal help when needed has a certain altruism and reflects a desire to protect others. It’s not that gathering information is bad; it’s simply that information is usually written for general audiences and should always be verified by an expert.
There are certain businesses that can’t issue an advice disclaimer. A real doctor treating patients in an office is held liable for the advice he gives clients. Any doctor who only treated patients that would absolve him of liability is not very trustworthy. Most experts must stand by their opinions when they give them to individuals. On the other hand, a doctor that writes a blog online may able to use an advice disclaimer because his blog treats issues generally instead of specifically.