Your Negative Online Review Can Have Legal Repercussions You Hadn’t Thought About

defamation-expert-witnessMost construction dispute cases involve a single suit, where either the homeowner or their representing attorney engages Först Consulting Group to serve as an expert witness.

In the case where a builder does not honor their warranty or repair deficiencies, the course of action may be for a suit to be brought, attorneys involved, and resolution sought through either settlement or a court case.

Often, Först Consulting Group is hired by the homeowner’s attorney to perform interviews and a thorough inspection, and generate a report that is sent to the county officials, attorney and homeowner. Our comprehensive reports or oral expert testimony (or both) is then used to defend and prove their side of the case. (In other cases, we are called to represent the side of the builder, but in no circumstances do we work with both sides of the same case.)

Negative posts can lead to defamation cases

With the advent of social media, however, the doors are now opened to new types of lawsuits: for example, defamation suits.

If a homeowner is unhappy with a contractor’s work, they can be tempted to post unflattering reviews on various social media platforms or review sites. Although this is a form of free speech, it can have its ramifications, however. The contractor can file a defamation, slander or libel suit against the homeowner, claiming that posted comments harmed his business and caused him a substantial loss of potential business that can run into the millions of dollars.

This can even happen in the same case, and if it does, the plaintiff in the case can now become the defendant as well.  And in other words, we can be hired as an expert witness by two different legal teams for two cases involving the same homeowner: the deficient construction case and the defamation case.

Defamation insurance may be a good investment

To win a defamation case, the plaintiff must prove that the statements they claim are damaging their business are indeed false. So to make a case for the plaintiff, the legal team hires Först Consulting Group to defend the client’s online postings as an expert witness, with the backup of the proof generated for the case against the contractor.

What people may not know is that homeowner insurance policies often offer the option of defamation insurance under an umbrella policy, which can cover some of the legal fees regarding the defamation case, generally handled by the insurance company’s legal team. It may be well worth the small extra cost.

If you have a construction dispute, need an expert witness, or simply have questions, please contact Först Consulting Group.

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