Even in this fast-moving, chaotic world we live in, each of us has an expectation of privacy. You know that when you walk into your home and close the door, what goes on within your walls is your business. You have also worked hard to build a solid reputation and achieved a satisfactory level of success on the foundation of your good name, but all it takes is someone with malicious intent and a little bit of free time and your life and livelihood could be destroyed because of an invasion of your privacy.

There are many statutory rights of action that legislative bodies have created for individuals who have had their privacy violated.  But there still remain more traditional rights of action.  The tort of invasion of privacy involves someone intruding upon your desire to be left alone and your expectation of privacy. Invasion of privacy is a civil tort which is governed by state law. Under common law there are four different invasion of privacy claims:

  • Intrusion upon solitude or seclusion. This occurs when someone invades your space, meddles in your affairs, opens mail addressed to you, hacks your email or uses video or sound recording equipment to record images or conversations that you would not want recorded and without your prior consent.
  • Public disclosure of private facts. This occurs when another person or entity publishes factual details of your life without your express permission. You would have to prove that the facts were indeed private and of no concern to the public. You would also have to prove that the person publishing your information did so with reckless disregard for your privacy and the private nature of the contents.
  • False light privacy. False light claims seek to protect people from misleading, offensive and false facts being publicized about them.
  • Appropriation of one’s name or likeness. If someone uses your name and or your likeness without your permission, you could have a claim for appropriation.

Both Washington, D.C. and West Virginia recognize these claims, so victims can file a suit to collect damages if the invasion of privacy had a serious effect on their lives.