Who Is Liable for Spreading Dangerous Misinformation?

ELI5: Negligence

“Misinformation” has become a buzzword in the media over the past few years. Many American citizens of all backgrounds are growing increasingly concerned with the amount of misinformation being spread. Social media platforms have attempted to censor what they deem to be misinformation. However, these attempts have been unsuccessful because moderators cannot be expected to catch everything and are often unequipped to determine which content is misinformation and which content isn’t. With American citizens becoming increasingly aware of the power of the internet, many have begun to ask the question, Who is liable when misinformation leads to another person’s injury?


When it comes to spreading misinformation, determining liability depends on the party spreading the information, and the misinformation itself. For a lawsuit to be successful, the person spreading the misinformation must have considerable influence, the misinformation must be advice that a reasonable person would follow, and the person spreading the misinformation needs to have known, or reasonably should have known, that the information they’re spreading is false. For example, if your neighbor tells you that methamphetamine will prevent you from getting cavities, you would not likely be able to sue them when methamphetamine ruins your teeth. This is because, your neighbor does not have considerable influence over you, and you knew, or reasonably should have known, that regular consumption of methamphetamine is not conducive to an improvement in your oral hygiene.


Who Is Liable for Spreading Dangerous Misinformation?

Celebrities need to be extremely careful with the products they endorse and promote. If a celebrity dentist promotes whitening strips that have been shown, prior to the dentist promoting them, to make all your teeth fall out, that celebrity dentist may be liable for the damages those whitening strips did to your teeth. This is because the celebrity dentist was in a position of influence, they reasonably should have known about the data regarding the whitening strips, and a reasonable person would have followed a celebrity dentist’s recommendation for whitening strips. Celebrities and influencers with large followings need to take caution when promoting products and activities that may be dangerous or cause others harm.


Companies may also fall on the wrong side of a personal injury lawsuit if they know their product is harmful and they continue to advertise it as beneficial. In 1998, the cigarette giant, Marlboro, found themselves up against a multi-million dollar lawsuit. The class action lawsuit alleged that the cigarette company launched an extensive marketing campaign that promoted Marlboro’s cigarettes as beneficial when they were, in reality, damaging to the consumer’s health. A fifteen million dollar settlement was awarded to the plaintiffs in 2016.


Who Is Liable for Spreading Dangerous Misinformation?

Your workplace also has a legal obligation to not influence you to do potentially dangerous things. This is most commonly seen when employers do not provide their employees with the proper safety equipment or training which OSHA mandates. For example, an employer might tell an employee that they do not need a safety harness since they aren’t high up enough, or they won’t be high up for very long. However, if OSHA would have mandated that a harness should be used, and the employee becomes injured because their boss told them that the harness wasn’t necessary, the company may have a lawsuit on their hands.


They say never to talk about religion and politics with new friends—but for educational purposes, we’re going to have to bend that rule a little. It may be difficult to sue the leader of a religious organization due to religious exemptions. For example, if your religious leader tells his or her followers that wearing a watch on their right hand will protect them from disease, and that turns out not to be the case, you might not be able to sue them since they’re preaching their religious beliefs. And elected politicians often have immunity from lawsuits. So, if President Biden tells everyone that wearing a watch on your right hand will prevent you from catching a cold, you could not sue him if you ended up catching a cold.


Who Is Liable for Spreading Dangerous Misinformation?

If bad advice has caused you injury, Moxie Law Group is here for you. Our dedicated team is committed to fighting for maximum compensation every time. There are a lot of personal injury lawyers in Salt Lake City. But, at Moxie Law Group, we have the best Salt Lake City Personal Injury Attorney. At Moxie Law Group, we handle all types of personal injury claims: from product liability to injuries resulting from false advertising. Equipped with the best Salt Lake City Personal injury attorney, we’re ready to handle anything. If you are ready to file a personal injury claim, contact Moxie Law Group for a free consultation.

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