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I work with electronics and some of it requires working with potentially dangerous voltages which could cause severe injury or fatality.

So my question is this: If I decided to start a blog and write an article describing how to build a high voltage power supply, am I liable for providing such information? Especially if someone injures themselves after trying to reproduce my project/experiment.

Will the warning shield me from liability?

I ask because see a lot of hobbyist websites posting large warning notices at the top of each page or throughout the article. Though, sometimes there is no warning.

  • Whether a disclaimer will shield you from liability, and what specific requirements such a disclaimer would have to meet, is no doubt dependent on the jurisdiction. I would advise (1) include the disclaimer for reasons of ethics, at least, and (2) consult a lawyer for advice specific to your circumstances. – phoog Jul 15 '15 at 18:01
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    Related law.stackexchange.com/questions/683/… – Dale M Jul 16 '15 at 3:50
  • I figured that there must be some form of general guidelines or boilerplate for written media. E.g. A book which contains information on dangerous subjects or advice that could lead a person to cause property damage, injury or loss of life. Most of the information I have been trying to search for turns up articles about libel, which does not apply. Thank you. I suppose I'll have to find a lawyer. – Mister Tea Jul 16 '15 at 18:50
  • You might consider adapting the disclaimers found on other sites, and then ask a lawyer to give whatever you come up with a quick review, and cleanup. Might be a bit cheaper than starting from scratch, and you're in a position to know the hazards. The lawyer will attend to the language. These seem useful: DIY Physics, Loneoceans Flyback Driver Circuits , VA3AVR High Voltage Projects, MadTeddy High Voltage Projects, etc – daffy Jul 18 '15 at 19:43
  • where do you live? U.S.? – gracey209 Aug 24 '15 at 18:45
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I would probably have a legal disclaimer out of an abundance of caution. That being said, you have a right to free speech via First Amendment guarantees. While that right is not absolute and some words “by their very utterance” cause injury or incite an immediate breach of peace, and do not receive constitutional protection, (there is the old adage you do not have the right to shout fire in a crowded movie theater). This (your blog) is not that. To take it to its logical (or illogical) extreme, there are many things on the internet, in magazines, scholarly articles, etc. that could injure someone or cause damage in the event that one who was not qualified or competent to perform the action described undertook to do so.

A child could burn themselves following the directions on a mac and cheese box but they shouldn't be cooking in the first place. The same rings true for high voltage electricity - a non-licensed electrician should probably not create a high voltage power supply. But, will some? Yes. But you are not liable for printing a blog about the practice.

On another but related note, if you are a licensed electrician your licensing authority may require that you take precautions to ensure you do not inadvertantly direct others to engage in practices of licensed professionals that could cause harm by giving them information. I doubt this but I don't know because I am not an electrician.

As far as could you be liable for writing it....under our legal system you can be sued under a theory of negligence for just about any action someone thinks was unsafe or causes injury. And you never know what a jury will do. But I think that to sue someone for simply writing something would be fairly easily dismissed through a motion for summary judgment by a competent attorney in the event you got sued. If everything a person wrote, that if followed by an unqualified person resulted in injury, resulted in liability for damages than it would have a chilling effect on their First Amendment right to free speech.

That said, I go back to my original statement that it couldn't hurt to have a simple liability waiver for extra protection. It could be something as simple as:

"The information contained herein is not mean to be comprehensive and is for informational purposes only. You should not undertake to perform anything described herein without adequate training and/or supervision. The Author disclaims any responsibility for any injury, damage, or loss as a result of reliance upon the information found on this site/blog."

If you do use a liability waiver, make sure it is bold and obvious. Otherwise, it can backfire!

  • My pleasure. Good luck – gracey209 Aug 24 '15 at 21:41

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