Cyberbullying is a fairly new phenomenon whose emergence is linked to the rise of electronic communication and the internet. It commonly affects children—especially teens—but adults are often victims of cyberbullying too. While it doesn’t cause physical injury, cyberbullying can cause severe psychological and emotional damage. Some damage, like emotional distress, is immediate and temporary, but other damage can manifest later in a victim’s life. Can a victim sue for current and future damages? The answer is yes.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a pattern of behavior that involves the repeated harassment of an individual via online sources or electronic communication devices. Hurtful comments, threats, taunts, the sharing of a person’s intimate videos or pictures, and defamation are among the tactics used by cyberbullies to embarrass, hurt, or intimidate their target. Unfortunately, damaging information, once posted online, can never be permanently scrubbed from existence, leaving evidence of humiliation for all to see indefinitely.
Victims of cyberbullying experience injury in different forms. Some experience emotional distress from having personal information shared on social media, resulting in them having to seek counseling- like Cardi B, who hired a therapist due to defamatory remarks being posted about her on the internet by blogger Tasha K. Others, because of untrue statements made, suffer injury to their reputation- like Johnny Depp when Amber Heard came out stating that he was abusive. Many minors become reclusive and eventually pose a danger to themselves, so they require psychological intervention. Teenagers wishing to find a job in later years may be hampered by explicit photos posted years earlier. Psychological issues that may have developed during an ordeal may manifest years later, rendering an individual unfit to function normally in daily life and causing him or her to lose earnings or incur expenses for ongoing counseling or care.
What Legal Action Can You Take for Current and Future Damages?
Depending on the act, bullied victims can make criminal claims against perpetrators, as cyberbullying is a crime in most states. Tort law also enables victims to sue for civil wrongs and receive compensation for injury suffered as a result of those wrongs. As cyberbullying is a civil wrong or tort, a plaintiff can sue for defamation, emotional distress, or psychological damage. Filing personal injury claims under the tort law requires victims or plaintiffs to prove, among other things, that the perpetrator was the cause of any personal injury suffered, that there was personal injury suffered, and that the cause of injury was intentional. Success in a personal injury case means that a victim may also be able to obtain relief for future damages.
How Can You Prove Your Case?
Making a case for personal injury often fails from a lack of evidence. The internet’s anonymity makes it impossible at times to identify perpetrators. There is no evidence of bullying tactics or tangible proof of injury. Lawsuits involving defamation are only applicable if the information circulated is false.
Victims who are intent on taking legal action should focus on amassing as much evidentiary support as possible to prove any claims they make in court. Identify and keep a record of all instances of cyberbullying. Use technology to your advantage; take screenshots and save photographs, comments, and posts. Save emails and direct messages. It is important that you make a note of dates and times where applicable.
Proving that you or your child has experienced pain and suffering as a result of cyberbullying can be difficult. Emotional or psychological distress is less discernible than actual injuries like cuts and bruises. Retain records of medical treatment and medications taken for symptoms. A court will require documentation of consultations with medical professionals regarding symptoms and treatment. A journal detailing the victim’s mental health during an ordeal provides evidence of their state of mind.
Are You in Need of a Cyber-Harassment Lawyer in Scottsdale?
Pursuing a personal injury claim in a civil court against a cyberbully can be overwhelming—so much is at stake. Cases can be complicated and are highly nuanced; success often requires an experienced legal advisor. At RM Warner Law, our experienced cyber-harassment lawyers are best placed to advise and represent you. Get in touch with one of our internet lawyers online today to begin discussing your case, or call us toll-free at 1-866-570-8585.