PHP Freelance Work: Legalities, Disclaimer, Avoid Getting Sued

I was all set to get ready to do some freelance PHP work (small projects–I have a couple of clients lined up) when the thought occurred to me: Microsoft and all the big software companies have terms of service that prevent them from being sued should any loss or damage occur as the result of the use of their software.

If Microsoft were sued for damages when big worms wreaked havoc on corporate and personal computers, they would have been bankrupt many times over.

So, I guess I need some terms of use or disclaimers, too. Some legal language to absolve myself of liability should hackers exploit some code I’ve written (unlikely :slight_smile: ) or should some other unforseen circumstance occur. Even more importantly, to prevent me from being held liable for something that I had nothing to do with.

Are there any other freelance PHP developers out there that have some terms of service that they make clients agree to before getting started? Is there some boilerplate terms out there that I can use?

I was thinking about just reading through some open source PHP legal terms and stripping out what I need. Stuff like the basic “I’m not responsible for loss or damage…”, etc. Probably also indemnify myself when I am contacted by someone to do work for a third-party.

How about you web designers out there? There isn’t as much possibility of messing things up or getting hacked with static sites, but do you have any terms of service in your contract to prevent you from being sued should the site get hacked?

This is not a situation where someone doesn’t know what he is doing. I obviously know you back up everything including files and databases before starting work on something so if any problems occur, things can be restored to the original state. So I’m not looking for people to tell me I should know what I’m doing, because I do. What I’m looking for is ways to not be held liable or be sued frivolously. I obviously shouldn’t be held liable from the actions of hackers.

Thanks for your advice. And if you know of some boilerplate legal terms language out there, I would be happy to see it.

Also, if you know of any web designer or PHP developer contract boilerplate out there, I would love to see that, too. :slight_smile:

:injured: There is a typo in the subject line and I cannot edit it. It should say “Disclaimer”, not “Dislaimer”.

I fixed it. :slight_smile:

Thanks. :slight_smile:

You can’t just remove all liabilities with a a legal document - you will still be liable for damages that result from negligence, mistakes, or illegal activities. However, you should certainly try and limit your liability as much as possible.

First, get a good services contract that contains language indemnifying you from things like hacking, y2k, virus, etc. There are lots of techy contracts that deal with these issues.

If you are incurring a lot of liability (i.e. you are writing code that handles money, medical information, etc) you would be wise to consider error and omissions insurance. That covers you if you are sued for something that is actually your fault.

Consider spending $150 on an attorney if you really want to feel protected.

Thanks for the tips. But you can’t get an attorney for $150. A PHP coder actually produces something useful and gets maybe $50 an hour. A lawyer tells you what the laws are–which were written mainly by other lawyers–and what legal decisions were affecting you and charges $300 an hour.

I had never heard of errors and omissions insurance. I know that professional liability insurance was out there to basically cover businesses. Do many programmers have these types of insurance? Or is it something they don’t worry about?

If any programmers out there have insurance to protect them, let’s hear from you.

$150 at 300/hr = 30 minutes which is enough time for a quick contract consultation.

Most programmers don’t carry insurance, no. But, most companies who employ programmers do (well, except for the tiny little shops).

What did you mean by ‘a php programmer actually produces something useful’ ?