Are Dating Sites Liable for Dates That Turn Violent?
Posted in Personal Injury on December 3, 2018
Research shows 15% of American adults have used dating sites, or almost 38 million people. Some of the most popular dating sites and apps are eHarmony, Match.com, Bumble, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid. While dating sites and apps can be excellent ways to meet people with similar goals and interests, they can also be dangerous. If something goes wrong on a date, it can be very difficult to hold the dating site liable for damages. Other outlets for recovery may apply to your case, however.
Dating Sites, Users, and Special Relationships
For most personal injury claims to succeed, a special relationship must have existed between the plaintiff and defendant. This special relationship, such as the one between a doctor-patient or attorney-client, comes with certain duties of care the defendant owes the plaintiff. Breaching these duties of care provides the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. If a special relationship did not exist, the defendant generally will not have owed the plaintiff any duties of care, and therefore would not be liable for damages.
In a November 2018 Ninth Circuit ruling, the courts held that Match.com did not have a special relationship with a plaintiff who alleged the dating site was liable for a date who stabbed her. Thus, the courts dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Match.com did not have an obligation to warn her the man was dangerous. This ruling may set a precedent for other such cases against dating sites and apps, holding that they do not have special relationships with their users. No special relationship means no duties of care owed to dating site users.
Dating websites and apps generally do not bear a duty to warn users of potentially dangerous dates. They also do not have a duty to protect users from dates that turn violent. If, however, the site has actual knowledge that a user has prior convictions of violent crimes, and if this knowledge rises to the level of foreseeable risk of harm, this could potentially result in a duty to warn. Most dating sites will not take the time to obtain this actual knowledge and are therefore unaware of criminal records and free from the duty to warn.
Liable Parties for Dates That Turn Violent
While you may not have a case against the dating site, that does not mean you do not have any means of seeking compensation after a violent date attacks and injures you. You could file a personal injury claim against the perpetrator during an ongoing criminal case. You may also have grounds to bring a suit against a property owner for negligent security, or an alcohol provider if your date was intoxicated at the time of the attack. Discuss your situation with a lawyer to determine all possible outlets for financial recovery after a dating app date goes bad.
Could You Have a Case Against a Dating Site?
Although past cases have typically ruled in the dating site’s favor, it is possible that you have a personal injury claim against a dating site or app for a date that turns violent. If the dating site knew or reasonably should have known of the perpetrator’s propensity for violence, the site may have possessed a duty to warn you of foreseeable risks of harm – including the date turning violent. You could also have a case against other parties depending on the situation.
Contact a Nashville personal injury attorney to discuss your situation and potential defendants for a personal injury case. An investigation could uncover that the site did have actual knowledge of the perpetrator’s criminal history, or that other factors could give rise to a duty of care from the dating site. A lawyer can also help you file protective orders against the assailant.