May 7, 2014
The expanding use of social media creates both opportunities and challenges in regard to personal injury claims. Social networking sites like Facebook, in which users regularly post comments and photos about themselves, have become a tool used by insurers to glean information about a plaintiff’s circumstances. In most personal injury claims, the plaintiff’s physical and mental ability to carry out tasks of daily living and work activities, as well as enjoy leisure activities is in issue, and the information to be gained from sites like Facebook can be nothing short of astonishing. The information posted on these sites has been characterized by the courts as records with potential relevance in a personal injury action, which may on that basis be ordered to be produced to the other side, along with medical records and other documentation relevant to the claim. Similarly, insurers may simply “creep” a plaintiff’s Facebook account in order to search for information that they can later use against them in litigation. It is advisable for plaintiffs to maximize their privacy settings on such sites to prevent unauthorized “creeping” and to keep in mind the possibility that anything they (or their friends) post to a social media site could be used in court to question the credibility of a witness or suggest a plaintiff’s injuries are not as serious as they claim, regardless of privacy settings.
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