Exercise Diligence When Leaving an Online Review
Everyone today is connected in some way to social media. It can be by Facebook, Yelp, email or other internet outlets. When you write something, you leave your fingerprint for everyone to see. If you go to a restaurant, dentist, daycare or other business and have a bad experience, you might think of writing a bad review online, on the company’s social media pages or Yelp. If you decide to do this, it’s important to pay attention to how you word your experience, as recent cases have shown you can be sued for libel or defamation, even if you think the review was justified. This can be a very frightening situation – so what are your rights?
In 2016, Congress enacted the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect consumers’ ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services or conduct in any forum, including social media. If your review is a fact or opinion, this act will protect you – but a negative review could also be defamatory. In one scenario, a woman left a negative review of a floor refinisher on Yelp in which she claimed the business was a scam, and the judge ruled that she had committed defamation. In another case, a man left a bad review of a veterinarian’s office and ended up with $26,000 in legal fees.
It’s important to be cautious when posting online – if you want to leave a review on a business page, make sure you’re only posting things that are absolutely true, and be sure you’re using language that clearly expresses that your review represents your opinion. If you are threatened with a lawsuit, you may have protection against personal offenses such as libel, slander or defamation through your homeowners insurance. If you receive a lawsuit, you need to contact your homeowners insurance claims department right away. The claims department may defend you and pay for damages up to the limits on your policy. If you want to be extra cautious, you could get an umbrella insurance policy that may provide coverage above and beyond your homeowners policy for attorney fees and damages awarded. It is important to understand your home or renters insurance protections.
If you have questions about what a homeowners policy covers, contact one of our licensed brokers at Higginbotham.