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Why You Shouldn't Skimp on Disclaimers

August 13, 2014

Interface Member

Lawyer for entrepreneurs, founder of Genavieve Shingle Law

genavieveshingle.com

We have all heard those commercials where the drug companies proclaim that taking their headache medicine could actually cause a headache — or worse, heart attack or death. While you may think this is ridiculous and silly (I mean, it is pretty funny how headache medicine could cause a headache), this approach is actually extremely important to protect their business.

This is an honest disclaimer from a weight-loss drug:

You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.

...Yup.

But guess what? As absurd as this is, it’s so important to disclaim in order to cover themselves. When they did a trial, people probably did go to the bathroom unexpectedly — so they have to warn any potential takers of this medicine; otherwise, they could get sued. Now, if someone pees themselves in public while taking this particular drug, this person cannot sue the company because they had notice that it could happen.

That is the key word here: notice.

The same logic applies to a health coach.

Many health coaches do not hold any sort of medical license — and this is so important to disclose because many people who are seeking health and/or nutrition advice often are relying on you as their sole source of information. 

You want to be clear as to who you are and what you can provide. More importantly, many people who have health or food issues can require a lot of emotional support as well. As a practicing health coach, you want to make clear that you are not a therapist or a licensed psychologist and that if someone is truly struggling with any such issue, they should seek professional medical help. 

This is very important to disclose because you don’t want to be responsible should this person have any sort of breakdown or experience a serious medical issue.   

I always suggest that these disclaimers/disclosures go into your client agreement, in your email signature and at the bottom of your website. This way, any potential or actual client cannot claim that they did not have notice of the way that you work.

Genavieve Shingle is a member of the DailyWorth Experts program. Read more about the program here.

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