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Can You Sue An Online Dating Service If You're Assaulted Or Stalked By A Date With A Criminal Past?

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If you're single and still looking for that special someone, you can probably expect a few bad dates before your find your Prince (or Princess) Charming. But if you have a really bad date, can you hold the dating website you used to meet your date responsible for negligence? Several pending lawsuits are seeking to do just that.

Do Dating Websites Have A Responsibility To Protect You From Online Dating Dangers?

Dating websites typically encourage people to join by promising that their websites are meeting grounds for people of like minds and similar interests, all of whom are looking for love and life partnerships. They don't typically warn you that the website might also include members with deviant intentions, including the desire to find victims that they could assault, rape, or even kill. 

However, some dating sites takes steps to try to keep people like that off their sites, using modern technology to cross-check users with public sex offender lists or requiring basic background checks. They also urge users to exercise good sense when meeting people in person that they've contacted through the site. 

Other sites don't. The question the courts have to decide is whether those sites that don't do any background investigation on its members is violating an industry standard of care. If so, and you've been injured in some way by someone you met through their service, then that company may very well be partially to blame.

What Standard Of Care Is Reasonable To Expect In An Unregulated Industry?

In the absence of governmental regulations, industries often take steps to regulate themselves. This helps ensure that people are protected against negligent business practices by creating a standard of care that's common to the industry. Disputes over what's considered "reasonable," or even an industry standard, is usually what results in lawsuits and gets decided by juries.

For example, if a patient complains to a doctor about chronic stomach pain, and the doctor doesn't run any diagnostic tests before prescribing a common acid-reflux medication, would the doctor be considered negligent if the patient turns out to have stomach cancer instead of acid-reflux disease?

In a situation involving a dating service, a court would have to look at what similar online dating services do to protect users. Do they check public records to see if potential members are registered sex offenders? Do they require members to go through criminal background checks? Do they offer to screen clients? Do they issue any warnings to users about the possible dangers of online dating or offer safety advice for meeting people in person after meeting through the site?

There are no guarantees that you'll find true love online through any dating website - and there are no guarantees that every person you meet that way will be a decent person who is genuinely interested in finding love. However, you may have a right to expect the site to take reasonable steps to protect you from obvious dangers. If you've been stalked or assaulted by a date you met online through a dating service and you find out that he or she had a public criminal record, contact an attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury claim. (You can contact someone such as John J Bublewicz Attorney At Law)