The “Gift of Gab:” Rethinking Defamation/Personal Injury Liability Insurance

Nov 17, 2021

An over-looked aspect of our hyper-connected, 21st century lives is the impact of what we “say” and “write” online. Unlike a decade ago, our conversations are increasingly carried out via text, social media or video snippets. With this ease of communication comes caution: what we express in the ethernet is traceable, recordable and permanent.

Increasingly, individuals and small business owners are discovering that words casually used do indeed have consequences. Family members or employees with online and social media access can innocently post disparaging comments, making account holders vulnerable to expensive and resource-consuming defamation and personal injury lawsuits.

Defamation is loosely defined as “untrue written or oral statements about a person.” Traditionally referred to as libel and slander in the published or broadcast realm, defamation concerns now extend beyond politicians and celebrities to anyone with a smartphone, social media app or active interest in the “comments section.”

While establishing slander or libel can be very difficult, the burden of proof is on the “defamed” to prove a statement false rather than an expression of opinion. What’s often overlooked is that defending an accusation of defamation can be financially disastrous. The good news is that most homeowners’ and general liability insurance policies offer some degree of protection against defamation damages.

The best way to navigate the shifting sands of legal “he said, she said,” is to avoid them altogether. Parents and owners should educate their children and employees regarding the limits of acceptable online speech. Social media accounts, blog posts and texts should be monitored as reasonably as possible. And, above all else, account holders should operate online with a healthy dose of common sense and restraint.

Oakbridge provides a full range of defamation/personal injury liability insurance coverage, from homeowners’ to specialized policies for higher risk professions and businesses. Our team of dedicated professionals is ready to help review your existing plans and structure a plan that meets the very specific needs of your family or business.

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