A few hasty words can cost you—especially if those words are in writing. Many people, especially children and teenagers, don’t realize that posting something negative and potentially damaging about a person, business, or organization can leave them open to a personal injury lawsuit.
Think before you post
Until the advent of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the average person was unlikely to be sued for libel or slander. (Libel is a written defamatory statement; slander is a spoken one.) All that has changed due to the hyperconnectedness of modern life. Heated online exchanges, cyberbullying, and other forms of negative written expression can get you sued for personal injury.
You say you don’t engage in those types of interactions? What about your kids? Parents are being held liable in court for their children’s social media posts.
Situations that seem innocent enough can still leave you open to a lawsuit. Social media posts a child may consider teasing might be construed as bullying and result in a lawsuit. So can starting a rumor that hurts someone’s reputation, sharing false information, writing a letter to the editor critical of a specific teacher’s performance, and even posting a harsh comment on the message board of your homeowners association.
The personal injury endorsement
Standard homeowners policies do not cover non-bodily injury. One way to protect your assets if you are sued for personal injury is to buy an umbrella policy. A second, less expensive option is to add a personal injury endorsement to your homeowners policy. If you have a lot of assets to protect, you may want to do both.
A personal injury endorsement will protect you and your family up to the limits of your policy if you’re sued for libel or slander. It also typically covers attorney and court costs incurred in defending yourself in a personal injury lawsuit, as well as situations such as false arrest, wrongful eviction or entry, and invasion or violation of privacy.
Of course, even if you have a personal injury endorsement, there is no coverage for intentional libelous or slanderous acts. You should still use common sense, and you should teach your kids appropriate online behavior. Understand, and help them to see, that words can be damaging, and they have consequences.
At L & M Insurance Group, we will be happy to help you review your insurance coverage, and assess your need for a personal injury endorsement. Please contact us if there’s any way we can serve your insurance needs.