If I’m thinking about starting my own home business, what do I need to do to protect myself?

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If I’m thinking about starting my own home business, what do I need to do to protect myself?

I would like to set up a website where I can offer my time(for a fee)to those with general anxiety, agoraphobia, panic attacks, etc. I want to offer advice and/or act as a sounding board for those who need someone to listen. I do have a background in psychology but I have no license to practice counseling. I do not want to advertise this as counseling, but as a support for those struggling. Would I be crossing and legal boundaries here?

Asked on January 28, 2015 under Business Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your plan entails considerable potential liability: if any of those you advise or counsel harm themselves or others as a result of your advice, or forego getting treatment from a licensed professional because they are being counseled by you, and that causes them harm, you could be sued for a great deal of money--there is a reason, after all, that pyschologists, social workers, etc. maintain professional malpractice insurance.

At a minimum, if you are determined to do this, you need to first speak with an insurance agent from a reputable company and find out what sort of insurance is available to you and how it would protect from negligence or malpractice-style claims. You should also set up and conduct your practice through an LLC, though the liability protection you will receive will be limited because you would still be liable for damages proceeding from your personal tortious (or wrongful) acts; still, since the cost of an LLC is minimal, it's well worth it for any additional increment of protection.


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