• Anyone know about disclaimers?

    JimWaller raised a very good point. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that the primary purpose of the disclaimer should be a warning that the reader will understand and heed, not just a CYA for the person posting the disclaimer.

    Sometimes warnings just become background noise, particularly where the warning seems to be everywhere, like the warning that "contents may be hot" on a cup. Hopefully someone is extra careful when he sees a wet floor sign, but if every grocery store posted a sign at the entry that said "Floor may be slippery in places" the warning would not change the conduct of most shoppers. It would not serve the purpose of deterring accidents and would probably offer no protection in a slip-and-fall case.

    I see one example in real life every winter. A few years ago a pedestrian was killed in Chicago when a large chunk of ice fell from a building on Michigan Avenue. Now, when there is any significant snow or ice storm in Chicago, almost every building puts signs on the sidewalk saying "DANGER - FALLING ICE." It is impossible to walk from one place to another without passing buildings with the signs. From experience, I know that some buildings have ledges or design elements that are more likely to accumulate ice during and after the storm, but the uniform warnings make it impossible for the average pedestrian to heed the signs (unless of course the person walks with his eyes to the sky, in which case he is more likely to trip over a curb or step in front of a taxi, which is far more likely to cause injury than the random and infrequent chunk of falling ice).

    That is the main reason that when I answer a question on a forum that either the original poster or another reader might take as legal advice, I don't rely on an overall disclaimer in the forum's terms and conditions, even if it specifically states that no advice on the forum should be taken as legal advice.

    If you write a disclaimer with the intent of actually deterring the action you wish to prevent, you will be much better off.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Anyone know about disclaimers? started by Kay View original post