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Many people use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other social networking websites to meet new people and/or to stay in touch with friends. Those using these sites should be careful what they or their children say in order to prevent an unwanted lawsuit.
Recently, a teenager sued Facebook and four of her classmates and their parents for $3,000,000. The lawsuit accused her classmates of bullying and humiliating her in a Facebook forum. The statements, allegedly false, were intended to hold her up to “public ridicule and disgrace”. The teenagers and their parents needed legal defense to defend against the charges, whether false or not.
In another case, a teacher was sued for commenting negatively on Facebook about a student’s appearance.
Did their homeowner’s policy provide the insurance needed? Probably not, as a homeowners policy pays for the amount for which the policyholder is legally liable, plus costs of defense, for bodily injury or property damage done to someone else. Bodily injury is defined as meaning bodily harm, sickness, or disease; property damage is defined as injury to, destruction of, or loss of use of physical property.
Neither definition includes saying or publishing something that injures another person’s reputation!
In order to obtain the needed coverage, the policyholder would need personal injury protection coverage. Many insurance companies now allow this insurance to be added to the homeowner’s policy by endorsement. This coverage insures the policyholder for several offenses, including oral and written publication of material violating someone’s privacy.
If you or your family is using Facebook or other such sites, you need to make sure you are properly insured. A good way to do so is to purchase personal injury protection coverage.