All individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy - over their personal media, private beliefs and conduct, and embedded in their right not to have personal information revealed to the public in an embarrassing or offensive manner. Today's technological landscape promotes the rapid spread of information online, allowing reputations to be ruined in a matter of minutes.
As a result, it's especially important to know about invasion of privacy laws and how to assert your rights in the event of a violation. If you suspect that your privacy has been invaded, there may be a cause of action available to you. Below, you'll find information about the four types of invasion of privacy claims.
Appropriation of Name or Likeness
If a person or entity has used your name, likeness, or - depending on the state in which you live - your voice, portrait, signature, or photograph, without permission, and to derive some benefit whether noncommercial or commercial, then you may have a legitimate claim for appropriation of name or likeness. To succeed in an appropriation claim, you must prove the following elements:
Public Disclosure of Private Facts
You have a right to secrecy over the details of your private life. When a person comes to learn something about you that is not generally known and then discloses the fact to the public, you may have an invasion of privacy claim for the public disclosure of private facts. The invasion of privacy laws of some states - such as New York - do not recognize this cause of action, so it is important that you further assess the applicable state law if you believe that your rights have been violated in this manner.
To succeed in a public disclosure claim, you must prove the following elements:
Again, for invasion of privacy, state law controls, and there are significant differences between the invasion of privacy laws of different states. Some states may require that the plaintiff prove additional elements, such as the defendant's reckless disregard. The applicable law will determine the strength and scope of your claim.
You also have the right not to have information about you disclosed in such a manner that it misleads the public, thus portraying you in a "false light". Unlike a defamation cause of action, where the plaintiff cannot succeed if the disclosed information is true, the plaintiff in a false light cause of action can sue over truthful disclosed information, so long as that information is disclosed in such a way as to be misleading to the public.
To succeed in a false light claim, you must prove the following elements:
Whether or not these elements have been met will depend on the context of the case. As an example of what might constitute a false light claim, consider the possibility of a newspaper printing your photograph next to an article about a criminal committing various heinous acts. Perhaps the photograph and article are structured in such a way that a reasonable person would associate the photograph with the content of the article. These circumstances would most likely give rise to a false light claim.
Intrusion of Solitude
You have a right not to have your "seclusion" - your physical or visible privacy - intruded upon by another without permission. A claim for intrusion of solitude usually comes into play against peeping toms, stalkers, people engaging in phone harassment, and people snooping through your private records.
To succeed in an intrusion claim, you must prove the following elements:
Next Steps: Get Your Invasion of Privacy Questions Answered
The tort of invasion of privacy may seem a bit complicated, but if you think you have a valid claim, why not learn more? You can find out about the laws in your state and even the viability of your claim by speaking with a local defamation attorney. An experienced lawyer will know about possible claims, possible defenses, and even be able to represent you in court, should your case progress that far.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.