Everyone knows we live in an extremely litigious society today, but perhaps you know just how bad it has become. Keep reading to find out about totally normal things you’ve likely done that could have cost you a lawsuit. And don’t miss one that is just downright nutty (page 6).
1. You left a bad Yelp review
If you’ve ever shared a bad experience at a business, you just might have opened that company up to loss of revenue, according to Reader’s Digest. Leave a terrible review on Yelp or somewhere else and you could find yourself sued for libel.
Cover yourself: Make sure everything you said about the company comes from facts you can prove, not just your opinion of the business. If you must give your opinion, make sure you accompany it with the phrase “in my opinion.”
Next: Do this and you might be singing the blues.
2. You infringed on a music copyright
If you happen to post a video that has copyrighted music in it — whether it’s from a dance recital, lip sync battle, or whatever — you might get sued for stealing intellectual property. And before you post something that credits the artist, know that you won’t be exempt.
Cover yourself: Either stop using music in your videos, or stick to songs that are considered royalty free, according to Reader’s Digest.
Next: Work banter can bite you.
3. You joked around at work with a coworker
Do yourself a huge favor and make sure all your comments at work are kind, courteous, and professional. If someone is offended by something you say, the company can be held liable, according to Reader’s Digest. In addition, you might be personally sued and fired — or both.
Cover yourself: Keep your conversations with coworkers cordial and focus on work. Sure, you can ask someone how their weekend was, but don’t press for personal life details.
Next: Social media sharing can be dangerous.
4. You shared a meme
If you’re digging that funny meme that’s been going around, don’t share it on your social media channels or you might be opening yourself up to a lawsuit. Everyone does it, but it could turn into a copyright lawsuit if the owner of the image happens to sue you for using his work without permission, according to Reader’s Digest.
Cover yourself: Post only photos or videos you’ve taken yourself — or buy images from a stock photo site. And never repost funny pictures or videos that don’t belong to you, just to be on the safe side.
Next: From church to courthouse
5. You got married
One of the most common reasons people get sued is over a divorce, according to Reader’s Digest. Sadly, around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce — and divorce typically involves a messy lawsuit.
Cover yourself: Get a prenuptial agreement to minimize your risk, even if you’re not crazy about the idea. It might not be the most romantic talk you’ll have with your future spouse, but it might be the most important one. Sigh.
Next: Shaking our heads at this one.
6. You wished someone Merry Christmas
According to the website Inc., saying anything that promotes a specific religious affiliation can target you for a lawsuit if you’re in a position of authority over the person to whom you’re speaking. That person might claim he felt intimidated if he doesn’t share your beliefs, and that would put you at a legal risk.
Cover yourself: Don’t say anything that relates to religion in the workplace. If you really want to wish people well on Christmas, try, “Happy holidays.”
Next: Car accidents hurt in more ways than one.
7. You got hit by another driver
If you think because you have basic car insurance, think again. Even if you are meeting the legal requirements of the law, you might still be vulnerable to lawsuits if you don’t carry enough “underinsured motorist” coverage, according to Reader’s Digest. And you can even end up getting sued by creditors if you’re in an accident that another driver caused if he or she doesn’t have enough insurance.
Cover yourself: Buy underinsured motorist coverage that’s equal to 10 years of your wages. That likely means that you’ll take out an umbrella policy, so make sure you choose underinsured motorist as part of the coverage.
Next: Taking care of business
8. You sold your crafts on the internet
Turning your favorite hobby into a profitable side hustle sounds great, but you have to be careful. If you’re going to sell online, it’s up to you to protect your customers’ data, according to Reader’s Digest. Because cyber attacks are so rampant these days, if you own a website and don’t do enough to prevent them, a customer whose information is compromised could sue you for negligence.
Protect yourself: Hire a professional to ensure your website is secure, or use a service to sell online, such as eBay or Etsy.
Next: Leash laws
9. You took your dog for a walk
If you take your dog for a walk and he bites someone, don’t think you won’t be liable if it’s the first time he’s done it. In most states, if your furry friend has displayed any aggressive behavior, even barking at strangers, it might make you liable for a dog bite later.
Cover yourself: If your dog bites someone, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is if your dog was on a leash — make absolutely sure you always walk him with one. Many cities have mandatory leash laws, and breaking them makes you liable, according to Reader’s Digest.
Next: Step away from your phone.
10. You filmed a video of an incident
If you see something scary, interesting, or upsetting, do not pull out your phone and start recording, because that video might open you up to a lawsuit, according to Reader’s Digest. If you live in a “two party” state, you must have permission to record strangers’ conversations or you could be sued.
Cover yourself: Try not to include others if you’re making a video, and whatever you do, don’t record people without their permission.
Next: A new game of tag.
11. You tagged someone in a Facebook photo
According to Reader’s Digest, every time you tag someone in a Facebook photo you’re opening yourself up to a lawsuit. You must have permission to tag someone in a photo because everyone has the “right of publicity.” That means if you share someone’s photo without permission or get someone in trouble by tagging them in a photo, they could sue you.
Cover yourself: Instead of tagging people in your Facebook photos, tell them to tag themselves if they like.
Next: Good fences make good neighbors.
12. You put in a pool
Put in a pool and you might just get sued. If a child comes onto your property and is injured or drowned in your pool, you can almost expect a lawsuit — even if you’re not at your house and you didn’t give the child permission to go in the pool, according to Reader’s Digest.
Cover yourself: Keep your pool covered when its not in use. Also, install a locked fence around it and post “no trespassing” signs.
Next: Talk, don’t post.
13. You slammed your ex on social media
If you give up awful details about your ex on social media and there’s any part of what you said that might not be 100% true, you could be sued for defamation, according to Reader’s Digest. If what you write causes harm to the person in the form of a financial loss or dings his reputation, he could sue you for slander.
Cover yourself: If you must vent, talk to a friend — don’t ever do it in writing, and don’t ever do it online.
Next: Stop sharing.
14. You shared too much on social media
According to Reader’s Digest, posting a vacation photo in which you’re kissing your new bae can give away a lot of information about you — where you are, your relationship status, and clues regarding your money situation. All of that can be used to sue you.
Let’s say you post a cute picture with your girlfriend on Facebook before your divorce is final — that can result in an alienation of affection lawsuit, hurt settlement negotiations, and impact an alimony claim.
Cover yourself: Keep in mind that anything you post can be used as a paper trail or “evidence.” Consider taking a break from social media for a while if you simply can’t help yourself.
Next: This is how crazy legalities can be.
15. The law is merciless
A missing comma caused a lawsuit, according to Reader’s Digest. Three dairy delivery drivers sued their employer for overtime for delivering perishables. Maine law states employees who work more than 40 hours a week are entitled to overtime pay unless their jobs involve “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of” perishable foods.
Because the drivers engaged in the “distribution of” perishables, they didn’t qualify for overtime. But because there was no comma after the word “shipment,” the drivers argued that the law was aimed at exempt workers whose jobs involve “packing for shipment or distribution.” The district court decided against the drivers, and now the case has become a 120-driver class action suit.
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