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Can I Be Sued for Making a Comment on Social Media?

Friday, April 22, 2022

The way we connect, collaborate, and communicate today is vastly different from a mere decade ago. Once a platform for college students, social media is now used by seven out of 10 Americans for personal use and/or business use and entertainment. That number is likely to rise as technology becomes more available and required in our everyday lives.

When social media gets ugly

Most of us have experienced at least one online battle of the minds – where negative and often derogatory comments slew in both directions. Like road rage on the highways, online confrontations are dangerous and can often lead to criminal activity.

Yes, you can be sued for comments you or your underaged children put online in public social forums

The current social and political climate has also led to a large increase in the number of slander (spoken defamation) and libel (written defamation) lawsuits.

While it would seem more logical and fruitful to sue the social media platform for defamation – that’s often not the case due to their huge legal firms and, in some cases, protective legal precedents. The individual account owner will be the target of the lawsuit – or the parents of underaged children.

Cases are won if the claimant can prove defamation of character because of a derogatory post. Examples include ruining someone’s personal or business reputation by spreading false information or, as we often see with school-aged children – mental anguish caused by cyberbullying.

Will your personal insurance policy cover legal fees if you get sued?

Being sued in civil court falls under Personal Injury Coverage, and that is NOT a standard coverage on your homeowner’s policy nor your Umbrella or Excess Policy. However, you can purchase endorsements to protect you and your family against libel and slander claims.

The Personal Injury endorsement will cover your defense cost in the event you are sued due to slanderous or libelous comments you made online. A common restriction with this endorsement is against anything business-related. For instance, you wouldn’t have coverage with your personal insurance if you made defamatory comments on your business’s LinkedIn page or website. You would need a commercial or business owner’s policy for that protection.

Why you should consider adding the Personal Injury Endorsement to your Homeowner’s and Umbrella policies

Laws (and insurance contracts) vary by state, so it’s very difficult to judge what someone can be sued for in the future. Here’s what we do know: what was once considered an innocent statement in a Facebook comment could currently command a multi-million-dollar payout from a libel suit. The mantra “Better Safe than Sorry” applies to purchasing Personal Injury coverage – especially if you have children who use the internet.

How much coverage do I need? Gather the facts first.

The Personal Injury endorsement on your homeowner’s insurance policy is relatively inexpensive, especially for basic coverage. Spend some time with your insurance broker to review your potential risk and take the time to understand what your state laws are regarding online defamation. Once you have the data, you can work with your broker to calculate the right coverage amount for you and your family.

The small financial investment the personal injury endorsement requires is well worth the coverage provided for defense costs when you find yourself being sued for a post, a comment, a video or a review you or someone in your family posted online that was construed as defamatory.

At The Horton Group, we are always here to help you understand your potential risks and how best to protect you and your family. Give us a call at (800) 383-8283 or stop by one of our convenient locations today!

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.