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When Your Online Date Injures You

ELI5: Negligence

If you’ve been dating in the age of smartphones, you know for sure that there’s not much you can know for sure about your date, prior to meeting them for the first time. Especially in the world of online dating services, stuff happens—bad stuff, that is. Maybe the person you met was especially negligent, and the date resulted in you going to the ER. Is the online dating service liable for that? Or, perhaps the person who showed up was very clearly not the person in the profile pictures. In the world of online dating, the struggle is real, and it may have you wondering who is liable when the struggle injures you.

WHAT IS A PROXIMATE CAUSE?

When Your Online Date Injures You

Before we get into who may be liable for a disastrous date, we must first discuss proximate causes. A proximate cause is, in the most simple terms, the action or event that most caused the injury. Of course, there can be many causes of an injury. Several factors and circumstances may have worked together in a chain of events to cause the injury. However, the proximate cause is the action that most directly caused the person to be injured. In most personal injury claims, the proximate cause occurs right before the plaintiff is injured. The further away a circumstance or event is from the injury, the more difficult it could be to prove that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by that defendant.

WHEN THE DATE IS DANGEROUS

If your date takes you on a super reckless adventure, and you become injured, it may be tempting to file a claim against the online dating service that introduced you to this maniac. However, suing an online dating platform because you were injured on a date may be more difficult than you’d imagine. Let’s say your date picks you up and decides to take you cow tipping, which is very dangerous and should never be attempted. And, you are seriously injured when a cow falls over on top of you. It would be difficult to file a lawsuit against the dating site on which you met your date because exchanging the initial messages with your date is likely too far away from the incident to be the proximate cause. Your date is much more likely to be liable because they contributed to your injuries by taking you to the field and helping you tip the cow. And, depending on the circumstances, the owner of the property may be partially liable as well.

WHEN THERE’S A DATA BREACH

When Your Online Date Injures You

You may have heard scandalous stories of dating websites that have accidentally leaked the data of clients who were celebrities or high-ranking officials alongside the data of many ordinary people. If an online dating service leaks your data, either through a breach or intentionally, it may be liable for the damages it causes you. Online dating websites are responsible for ensuring that their data is secure. If you are physically harmed as a direct result of the data breach, you may have a personal injury claim. However, such a situation would be extraordinary. For example, if a person decided to stalk you and used the information from the online dating service’s data breach to find you and harm you, the online dating website may be liable for damages.

WHEN YOU’RE RECEIVING UNWANTED COMMUNICATIONS

If you continue to receive unwanted communications from a person, you may be wondering if the dating website or app is liable for the emotional distress these communications cause you. Since dating websites and apps are relatively new to society, it may be difficult to pinpoint what, if anything, the website may be liable for. Even when harassing messages rise to the level of intentional infliction of emotional distress, it may be difficult to hold dating services responsible, especially when they have blocking features. In the past, social media platforms have not been held accountable for the content users post to their sites because websites such as Facebook do not create the content itself; they simply provide a place to post the content. Similarly, dating websites do not send you harassing messages; they simply provide a site to introduce you to other people. You should not provide your personal contact information to someone you only know online and don’t know very well. If you give someone on a dating website or app your cell phone number and they begin harassing you directly, the website or app won’t be responsible. 

WHEN YOUR DATE ISN’T WHO THEY CLAIMED TO BE

When Your Online Date Injures You

Dating websites and apps are responsible for ensuring that everyone who uses their app is old enough to use the app. In the United States of America, you have to be at least 18 in order to use dating services. Dating websites are required to verify a user’s age by having them click a box, certifying that they are old enough to use the site, or having them enter a birthdate. On a date, both parties are responsible for ensuring that the person they’re on a date with actually is the age they claimed to be online. Similarly, online dating sites are not responsible for ensuring that the person you’re communicating with is the person they’re claiming to be. For example, if you’re on a dating website, and you begin receiving messages from Justin Bieber, the online dating website isn’t responsible for making sure the person you’re talking to actually is Justin Bieber.

WHEN YOUR DATE’S NEGLIGENCE INJURED YOU

If your online date has resulted in your injury, Moxie Law Group is here for you. Though it may be difficult to sue the dating service that introduced you to your date, you may be entitled to compensation if your date’s negligence has contributed to your injuries. If you’ve been injured by a negligent date, contact Moxie Law Group today.

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