There are laws governing every corner of our day-to-day lives, from what
we do on social media to how we decorate our lawns. With so many rules
and regulations out there, it is no surprise to find that there are numerous
commonplace behaviors and occurrences we all do that can actually toe
the line of legality and trigger a lawsuit.
Reader’s Digest recently published an article that discussed the biggest “offenders,”
and they sat down with
Attorney Thomas Simeone of Simeone & Miller, LLP to get some legal insight. (You can
click here to view the full Reader’s Digest article. Login information may
Filming in Public
Recent jumps in technology have put a smartphone — and a camera —
in virtually everyone’s hands. The camera part of the device can
be a legal problem, as you might need permission to record people in public.
As Attorney Thomas Simeone explained in the Reader’s Digest interview,
“two-party states” require you to get express permission from
anyone in your video, even if they are a bystander 30 feet away you accidentally
film. Otherwise, they could try to sue you to get the footage removed
from anywhere it was uploaded, or destroyed altogether. If you make any
profits off the video, then there might even be a chance you are sued
for some sort of compensation. The safe bet is never filming people without
their permission. Careful camerawork can crop out bystanders.
Taking Fido Out for a Walk
Going out for a stroll with man’s best friend can be quite relaxing,
until you realize it actually puts you at risk of encountering a serious
legal situation. If your
dog bites someone while you are out walking, then the odds of that person suing
you for compensation are high. Attorney Thomas Simeone noted that liability
laws are not crafted to favor the dog owner. Many states make the dog
owner strictly liable for any dog bite injuries, and the rest pin liability
on the dog owner if there is any inclination the dog might be dangerous.
The twist is a dog can be called “dangerous” even if it barks
at cars driving by, as nearly all dogs are wont to do. To protect yourself
and your dog from a lawsuit, keep Fido on a short leash whenever you go
on a walk, steer clear of strangers, and generally stay out of crowded areas.
Social Media Tagging
Everyone loves a good story shared among friends on social media by tagging
each other in pictures and videos. However, no social media story is shared
just among friends. There is always a good chance someone uninvolved with your
private matters is going to see the posts. Indeed, courts have routinely
ruled that anything uploaded to social media is considered public data,
even if you have your account completely locked and private.
This can lead to complications if you are in the middle of a legal case.
For example, imagine being tagged on a date with a new paramour before
your divorce finalizes. You might be accused of infidelity, hurting your
chances of getting a positive outcome. When you are dealing with a lawsuit
or legal case of any kind, abstain entirely from social media use.
Selling Your Goods & Services Online
The internet has forever changed the marketplaces of the world. Whether
people are looking to buy a new coffee mug or get their hedges trimmed,
they are going online to shop first. People also tend to prefer websites
that let them make payments then and there, rather than in-person. As
an entrepreneur who wants to put your custom crafts and services out there
for the world to enjoy, you must be aware that you are entirely responsible
for the data and personal information you collect from buyers and visitors.
If a hacker steals data off your online marketplace, then it is you who
will have to answer for it, usually by responding to lawsuits. Make certain
your computers, servers, etc. all have great cybersecurity in place.
Installing a Swimming Pool
It is your right to have a private swimming pool on your property if you
want one, but it is also the right of others to sue you if it becomes
an “attractive nuisance” that hurts others. Attractive nuisance
laws state that anything that could be intriguing
and dangerous to an average child must be kept either out of sight or out
of their reach with locks, gates, and so forth. Swimming pools are probably
the most common attractive nuisance cited in such claims, as they are
easy for children to see and look fun to play in, despite the inherent
danger of drowning. To stop someone from trying to sue you for having
a pool, install locking safety gates around your pool and property perimeter.
You should also cover your pool whenever it is not in use.
The Lesson to Take From Commonplace Lawsuits
There are so many ways you can get unexpectedly sued by a third party —
what are you supposed to do to defend yourself? The unfortunate reality
is you can never predict with 100% accuracy all the reasons why someone
might think it is time to bring a lawsuit against you. The most you can
do is be aware of your legal responsibilities, be reasonable, and talk
to an attorney as soon as you run into trouble.
At Simeone & Miller, LLP, we know all about tricky legal situations
because we have helped
thousands of clients get through them. Our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys
are here to guide and represent you after you get hurt by a negligent
person or party. When your injuries are not your fault, the costs to cover
related damages should not be your responsibility.