Suing for the invasion of your privacy

The internet has made people comfortable sharing their personal lives with dozens or even hundreds of people online. However, there are usually still some things that people choose to keep private -- and they may not realize how important that privacy is until they lose it.

If your privacy was purposefully wrecked by someone else, you may have a cause of action for a personal injury claim based on invasion of privacy laws.

What triggers a privacy lawsuit?

The most important factor when it comes to invasion of privacy is that you had reasonable expectations that your secret would remain a secret.

For example, if you take medication for the herpes virus and live in a small town, you don't expect the pharmacy tech to tell everyone you both know about the medication you take.

On the other hand, if you tell several of your friends while you're sitting together at a bar, you can't reasonably expect to keep the information quiet.

What different ways does the law recognize invasion of privacy?

The law recognizes more than one way that a person's privacy can be invaded.

  1. There can be an intrusion into someone's solitude. This is the sort of nosiness that would offend most people -- like having your text messages on your private phone read through by your boss as he's trying to figure out if you're looking for a job elsewhere.
  2. The misappropriation of someone's name or face. Celebrities have to deal with this all the time -- people try to associate a celebrity with their product to make a quick buck. However, private people can have it happen too -- like the woman who found her high school photo on a gag gift for drinkers!
  3. The disclosure of someone's private facts to the public. While there's generally a right to free speech, that right is tempered by an individual's expectations of privacy -- as in the example of a pharmacy tech who gossips about the medications her neighbors are on.
  4. Published information that creates a 'false light" around someone that is embarrassing or offensive. For example, the stock photo of city street might be used for a story about drug deals or prostitution -- creating the false impression that the people in the photo are dealers and prostitutes.

If you've suffered a privacy invasion, consider your legal options carefully.

Source: FindLaw, "Invasion of Privacy," accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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