The Internet is a wonderful and amazing tool. It is hard to imagine our lives without it. In today’s world, the Internet is an essential research tool when people consider buying services and products.
While good reviews and comments posted online can positively affect a person or business, the opposite is also true. Negative content can greatly injure a person or company’s reputation, and bottom line.
Sometimes information published online about products and services can be unlawful. If information that is published online is false or defamatory, a person or business may decide to file a lawsuit for defamation against the publisher.
Although not known by many, there is something called “defamation insurance,” which can provide coverage in these situations to people who are sued for defamation.
Significantly, defamation insurance does not cover damages if you are the subject of defamatory attack online. It provides coverage only if you or your business faces a lawsuit for publishing information that is allegedly defamatory.
If you are looking to learn more about defamation insurance, this post is meant provide basic information on the topic.
What is Defamation and Defamation Insurance?
Before we discuss what defamation insurance is, it is important to understand what defamation is.
The term defamation is an umbrella term for when someone makes a false or harmful statement about another person. Generally, defamation falls into two different categories known as libel and slander.
The term defamation means a false statement made by one person about someone else. To qualify as defamation, the false statement must be hurtful and cause harm to the other party.
To prove defamation, a person must show all of the following:
- The statement about him or her was false
- Injured him or her in some manner
- Is communicated to a third person; and
- The statement is not privileged
A statement is defamatory if it tends to harm the reputation of another person so as to lower him or her in the eyes of the community. Or, if it would deter third persons from associating or dealing with him or her.
To determine if something is defamatory, Courts analyze a writing as a whole, not just the language alleged to be defamatory. The publication and its words are analyzed how average people would read and understand them.
Is there an Insurance Policy that Covers Defamation Claims?
Generally, most people carry some form of insurance policy, like auto insurance or homeowner’s coverage. However, most policies do not typically cover defamation claims unless you purchase additional coverage.
Often, homeowner’s insurance policies will contain an option for something called “excess liability” coverage. If you have “excess liability” insurance you may have coverage from the expenses of defending against a defamation case.
“Excess liability” can be added to an existing insurance policy. The best way to begin this process is to speak to your insurance agent.
Some of the different kinds of defamation that may be covered with an excess liability policy include:
- slander – injurious spoken statement
- libel – injurious written statement
- false arrest, detention, or imprisonment
- malicious prosecution
- shock/mental anguish
- other personal liability situations
Each insurance policy is different. Their is no guarantee that your particular insurance company or policy offers such coverage.
Defenses to Defamation
Many people post things on the internet that may be defamatory. However, just because a person posts information other don’t agree with or find offensive does not mean that they will win a defamation case.
While defamation laws are meant to protect people from false and harmful statements, the law also protects free speech. A person who is sued for defamation may be able to escape liability if he or she can prove any number of privileges or defenses:
- The statement is true
- It is made with the other party’s permission
- The statement is privileged; or
- The information is communicated by accident
Significantly, these defenses are powerful tools that can effectively end a defamation case. Therefore, if you are facing a defamation lawsuit, insurance coverage may help reimburse or cover the costs of hiring a lawyer to utilize these defenses.
An Internet Defamation Lawyer Can Work to Remove Content
Because everybody uses the Internet in today’s world to conduct research thousands of people are more likely than ever to be subject to a defamation lawsuit.
Although my law firm does not typically defend cases of defamation, we do help individual who are the targets of defamatory review. It is therefore more relevant than ever to consider if someone may have defamation insurance when deciding to file a lawsuit.
If you are facing online attack and defamation, you may simply want the content removed and for the attacks to stop. In other circumstances, you may want to hold the individual poster accountable for his or her damaging statements or conduct.
Aaron Minc, an Internet defamation removal lawyer at Meyers, Roman Friedberg and Lewis, LPA, can fight for you and your business against online defamation. To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation call (216) 373-7706 or schedule a meeting online.