Website Liability, Anyone? Part 2

If you haven't done so already, please read Part 1 :[Return] Considerations For Your Web Site

If you or someone in your household operates or is building a Website, you need to be aware that the site could open you to legal situations. Here are some questions you should consider:

Who created the site?

Key consideration: depending upon the circumstances, a private party that created the site for you may share (or even own) the responsibility for damages caused by the site.

What is the purpose of your site?

Key consideration: Is there ANY business activity or purpose? If so, you may have an immediate need to secure appropriate protection.

What content is found at your site?

Key consideration: Not only do you have to think about YOUR message, but you must think of other parties that appear at your site such as friends, companion businesses or even miscellaneous links.

Who do you intend to attract to the site?

Key consideration: There's a big difference in the type of people you're targeting, such as inviting:

  • relatives to see baby pictures or family newsletters
  • customers to request product/service information or to place orders
  • hobbyists to distribute or solicit stories or advice
  • strangers to a forum for discussing sports, political or other topics

Is there anyone you would not want to see the site? Why?

Key consideration: Answering this question honestly is critical. It can identify prime areas for possible legal action against you. It may also suggest what precautions you may take, including the easiest action such as eliminating the reference to a person, group or organization. Does Your Site Create An Insurance Need?

After examining the key concerns about your Website, you should be prepared to take precautions which may include:

  • adding security features to your Website
  • changing the content
  • adding waivers or disclaimers about links or certain pages that appear on your site
  • adding user agreements to your site
  • creating guidelines on maintaining current and future content at the site
  • Changing your homeowner coverage
  • buying additional or special personal or business liability insurance
  • adding or eliminating a guest book (if you have a guest book, pay close attention to what visitors say)
  • eliminating the Website

Once you've carefully examined your Website situation, a discussion with an insurance professional could be an excellent step to identify coverage needs which may include having to buy commercial coverage. The instant and widespread access represented by the Internet creates new perils for individuals. Don't hesitate to seek the help of an insurance professional or even competent legal advice.


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