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Personal Injury Via the Internet in Florida

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Social media is all the rage these days. But when it is used as a tool to disparage others, it is unlawful, and can be addressed through the law. If you have suffered a blow to your personal dignity, resulting in the denigration of your reputation, you may have a case for libel. An experienced personal injury attorney can ferret out the malicious posts and represent you in a court of law.

Civil Law

Criticism, it may be argued, is simply making a fair statement that may not be complimentary. It is not necessarily a personal attack.

Harassment, on the other hand, makes a victim feel that in returning to school or work he or she will face ostracism, teasing, or even violence. It is any unwelcome conduct ranging from offensive jokes and pictures to insults, ridicule, name-calling and intimidation.

A perpetrator of cyber bullying is legally responsible for the consequences of his words if the outcomes could have been reasonably been predicted. For example, urging a depressed person to kill himself, resulting in a suicide, could have legal consequences.

Schools (Safe Schools Act of 2015) and workplaces (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967), are required by law to provide a safe working environment, and may be held liable if they fail to do so. Bullying statements, whether or not they are libelous, may be determined to have created an unsafe environment. In addition to Federal laws, Florida Statute 784.048 defines cyberbullying as “bullying through the use of technology…causing substantial emotional stress.”

Penalties for Workplace Cyber Bullying

At the very least, maliciously harassing someone online may result in a misdemeanor charge.  That could mean up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine. Under federal law, if the predator poses a credible threat, the prison sentence may be as much as five years, with a maximum fine of $5,000.

Florida’s Bullying Law: Jeffrey Johnson Stand up for All Students Act

Bullying led to the suicide of 15-year-old Jeffrey Johnson in 2005. Persistent cyber attacks over many years eroded the young man’s desire to live. The anti-bullying legislation was named after him. Now students responsible for bullying face expulsion for their behavior.

Cyber Bullying In Schools

When cyber bullying is systematic and chronic it elicits emotional distress. Florida schools are required by law to implement anti-bullying policies that have clear-cut consequences for infractions. Parents, students, volunteers and school employees are immune to prosecution in civil court if they promptly report the bullying. But when the behavior goes unchecked, there may be cause for a lawsuit.

Legal Action

Internet sites have terms of use agreements that ban abusive behavior. Contacting these websites is one way to interdict online bullying. But when the comments cross the legal threshold, it is time to involve law enforcement. In this instance, you want experience on your side. Contact the knowledgeable team at The Law Offices of Robert W. Elton in Daytona Beach for your free, confidential consultation today.

Resources:

congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/311

eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm