The Media Resource Center reports that there have been 95 new cases of libel filed against bloggers in the last 3 years. That is an increase of 216% over the past period. Even though those numbers are not startling, it is evidence of a trend.
Why the increase in libel lawsuits against bloggers? Traditionally Joe Blogger was not a ripe target for a lawsuit. Why bother suing someone who does not have any money? How is he going to pay on the judgement?
According to James C. Goodale, writing in the New York Law Journal, lawyers have found their golden egg: homeowners insurance. Most homeowner insurance policies have a clause tucked away in the fine print that provides coverage for libel. Bloggers attorneys defense fees are also covered. With the right case, a plaintiff can get the limits of the policy.
Moreover, people are also tweeting and commenting on blogs. A whole new class of potential plaintiffs and defendants have been created.
The lesson here is that bloggers and anyone else engaging in social media should look at their homeowners policy to determine if they have coverage for libel. If you don’t, purchase some. Its not expensive.