Social networking has become part of the fabric of daily life. Facebook®, Twitter®, Instagram®, Snapchat®, blogs, and other online chatter continue to grow. And, it’s led to an increase in lawsuits based on defamatory or libelous statements.
What people “say” on the Internet
As you’ve probably seen, some people make some awful stupid statements online, and YES…it’s all in writing. Defamation is spoken or written words that falsely and negatively reflect on a living person’s reputation. Foolish things you write (libel) are much easier to prove than foolish things you say (slander).
People are suing…it could happen to you.
People don’t think about these things…until they get sued. Even if you’re careful, are your kids? A parent could be sued for “negligent supervision” of a child’s activities. Here are just a few examples of lawsuits:
- In New York, a former Oceanside High School student is suing four former classmates and their parents for $3 million alleging cyber bullying.
- In Chicago, a woman is being sued for $50,000 by her landlord for a tweet about her moldy apartment and mentioning her landlord’s name.
- In Pennsylvania, a high school co-principal is suing four former students for creating a “parody profile” on MySpace.com.
Over 100 civil lawsuits against bloggers and others in social networks and online forums were reported in statistics by Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard University. This is up from just 12 in 2003.
What if you’re NOT guilty?
When there is a lawsuit, there are lawyers and a court case. Even if you’re not guilty, who will pay for defense costs that are often substantial?
Would your homeowner, condo or renter policy cover you?
Home policies only cover personal liability for “bodily injury” and “property damage”. A person’s reputation is not tangible property, and mental anguish and emotional trauma is not bodily injury.
How can you be protected for libel/slander situations?
The good news is you can get protection. You can purchase a Personal Injury endorsement to your home, condo or renter policy, which covers situations involving libel or slander. It is relatively inexpensive for the extra protection it provides. An additional option is to purchase a Personal Umbrella policy, which provides higher protection limits for these and other situations.
In today’s world, this is a very real exposure, and you should consider this kind of protection. We want to make sure you’re well protected. Let’s discuss your protection options.